Seoul said North Korea staged a military parade in Pyongyang today, in a show of strength just a day before the Winter Olympics open in the South. In recent days, thousands of troops and hundreds of armoured vehicles have been seen rehearsing for the display in the capital. Unlike the North’s last parade in April 2017 its state television did not show it live, but a Seoul government source confirmed it was held at Kim Il-sung square in Pyongyang.
Vice President Pence departs Monday for a five-day trip to Japan and South Korea, a visit to Asia intended to focus almost entirely on rallying allies to ratchet up their pressure on Kim Jong Un’s repressive regime, as well as directly pressing North Korea to stop its nuclear ambitions. Even his final stop — leading the U.S. delegation at the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in PyeongChang, South Korea, on Friday night, and attending an Olympic event Saturday morning — has a clear geopolitical undertone: to combat North Korean propaganda amid the Olympic festivities, White House officials said.
North Korea has defended plans for a large-scale military parade scheduled for the day before the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Pyongyang’s annual military parade to mark the founding of its armed forces has taken place in April for 40 years. From 2018, however, it has been changed to 8 February – when athletes will gather in Pyeongchang for the opening ceremony the following day. North Korea said that no-one had the right to take issue with its plans, rejecting views that the event is provocative.
North Korea’s ambassador to Beijing, Ji Jae-ryong, made his first public appearance in roughly two months, prompting speculation about warming relations between China and North Korea and whether some kind of important development or event is in the works. Ji reportedly shook hands and exchanged greetings with South Korean Ambassador Noh Young-min. Noh told Ji that he hoped the inter-Korean talks that resumed ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will continue. Ji said in response that he hoped the Pyeongchang Olympics would be a success, according to sources.