Satellite imagery taken over the past two months indicates that North Korea is currently preparing for what is likely a military parade to mark key anniversaries occurring in April.
In imagery from February 14, the presence of vehicles and possibly troop columns can be seen in a section of land immediately north of the Mirim Horse Riding Club in Pyongyang – a location North Korea has frequently used for parade drills in the past.
“North Korea uses this area as a practice ground prior to military parades,” David Schmerler, a Research Associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told NK News.
“As seen in previous satellite imagery analysis, recent satellite imagery shows troop activity at the staging ground consistent with past preparation activity.”
The Mirim Horse Riding Club is one of North Korea’s most popular marquee tourist attractions, but the surrounding area is also fully equipped for parade preparations, complete with a replica of Kim Il Sung Square – where many major North Korean military parades have been held.
“The facility and support areas cover approximately 1.5 km squared and consist of 6 km of practice track and roads that include a replica of Kim Il Sung Square where the actual parade takes place,” Joseph Bermudez of All Source Analytics wrote in 38 North on October 15, 2015.
While a small amount of activity is visible in imagery of the site from February 14, sustained activity is subsequently present throughout February and March, as well as in imagery from early April.
A significant number of vehicles are visible throughout imagery following February 14 and are most frequented located in a previously identified placement or parking area.
Satellite imagery from March 17 and April 1 also shows the placement of equipment, vehicles and possibly troop columns in formation within the Kim Il Sung Square replica site, as well as on the track leading into the square.
The current month bears special significance in North Korea. April 15 marks the birthday of its founding leader and Eternal President Kim Il Sung, while April 25 represents the anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) – North Korea’s armed forces.
North Korean state media has also reported on upcoming events and celebrations for the anniversaries.
“The meaningful April holidays should be marked as big political festive events that can be remembered in the national history,” an article in ruling party organ the Rodong Sinmun recently read, according to a Yonhap News Agency translation published yesterday.
Prior evidence of drills at the parade location can also been seen in Google Earth imagery going back several years.
Vehicles in the designated parking area, October 28, 2014 | Google Earth
This includes vehicles consistently located in the designated parking areas – as seen in the satellite imagery from February, March and April – as well as personnel practicing in formation.
In one satellite image from October 28, 2014, North Korean personnel can be seen in formation spelling out the word “승리”, or “Victory” in Korean.
Personnel spelling out “Victory” in Korean, October 28, 2014 | Google Earth
Featured Image: NK News
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