N Korea stages a military parade on eve of Olympics

Feb 10, 2018, 06:00
N Korea stages a military parade on eve of Olympics

The organizers of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games annoucned Wednesday that athletes from North Korea and Iran won't receive the special "Olympic edition" Galaxy Note 8 smartphones due to "United Nations sanctions".

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched on as tanks and thousands of troops staged a military parade on Thursday, marking seven decades since the formation of the country's armed forces. US officials have grown increasingly dire in their warnings about the North's march toward developing an operational nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental U.S.

North Korea's nominal head of state and senior statesman, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam, is expected to join her.

Analysts say her inclusion in the Olympic delegation shows North Korea's ambition to use the Olympics to break out from diplomatic isolation by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the United States.

He also ratcheted up his rhetoric on the North's human rights abuses in a speech to USA service members at Yokota Air Base in Japan.

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North Korea has held a huge military parade and rally, just one day before the South hosts the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

North Korea normally invites hundreds of foreign journalists to show off the spectacle to the world, but did not do so this time, possibly an indication that it wanted to control how the display was seen - which would be in keeping with the absence of live coverage.

The decision to boycott North Korea's participation from South Korean conservatives comes after rival politicians agreed to refrain from quarreling over détente ahead of the opening ceremony for the Olympics on Friday. Along with Kim's wife, Ri Sol-Ju, on hand were chief of the General Political Bureau Kim Jong-Gak and president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly Kim Yong-Nam.

The North often boasts of its parades but reports of this surfaced afterwards with TV only airing delayed footage.

Overshadowing most of the unease over the parade, South Korean television networks have focused on groups of North Korean musicians practicing for congratulatory concerts during the games, and a welcoming ceremony for the North's competitors at the athletes' village.

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Another potentially contentious issue could be the North Korean delegation's trip by air to the South.

The main organiser of the Pyeongchang Olympics has said that the parade will not affect the "dynamics" of the Olympic Games.

Pence is traveling to Seoul later Thursday as he seeks to ramp-up pressure on the North and to push back on its propaganda around the games. "Therefore, we must not permit the invaders to infringe or ridicule our dignity and sovereignty, even by 0.001 millimeter", the North Korean leader said, quoted in Reuters.

But Pyongyang official Cho insisted: "The reason that our delegation is in the South is to participate in the Winter Olympics and celebrate its successful hosting".

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