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North Korea Holds Military Parade on Eve of South Korean Winter Olympics


FILE - Soldiers in tanks are paraded across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade, April 15, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

North Korea staged a military parade in Pyongyang Thursday, one day before the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in rival South Korea.

Government sources in Seoul say tens of thousands of people participated or attended the parade and rally in Kim Il Sung Square to mark the 70th anniversary of the isolated nation's military.

North Korea normally marks April 25 as the day when regime founder Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un, established the first revolutionary army. But the government announced last month that it was moving the celebration to February 8, in an apparent attempt to draw international attention before it turns to Friday's Olympics opening ceremonies in the host city of Pyeongchang.

In this, April 15, 2017, photo, North Korean soldiers salute as their national anthem is played during a military parade to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang.
In this, April 15, 2017, photo, North Korean soldiers salute as their national anthem is played during a military parade to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang.

Military parades in North Korea usually showcase goose-stepping soldiers and rolling displays of new weapons in their arsenal, but it was not immediately clear whether the weapons were a part of Thursday's event.

Kim Jong Un has sent a large delegation to South Korea to take part in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, including his sister, who is a senior member of the North's ruling Workers' Party, and 22 athletes who will march with their South Korean counterparts under a unified flag. His surprise offer to send the delegation during a New Year's Day speech was eagerly accepted by President Moon Jae-in.

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