About the Author
View more articles by Chad O'Carroll
Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
Preparations for a major civilian and military parade took place in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung square overnight on Wednesday, NK News has learned.
Heavy-duty vehicles could be overheard passing through the square after midnight, joined by troops and other participants taking place in Sunday’s forthcoming 70th anniversary of the founding of the DPRK.
Tanks, air defense and small missile-types were all seen passing through the square late at night, an informed source told NK News regarding hardware taking part in the practice run. In addition, large groups of troops including special forces were seen also training in the square.
No intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were observed at the time, the source said, a possible indicator that DPRK authorities will not seek to use the anniversary event to display their most controversial weapons systems.
ICBMs are not, however, normally seen in commercially available satellite imagery or maneuvering through Pyongyang streets until immediately prior to the parade – and it remains possible they could still play a role.
Just after midnight, cries of ‘Manse’ - meaning ‘long live’ and often used to praise the DPRK leader – could also be heard coming from the fully illuminated square in bedrooms at the nearby Yanggakdo hotel.
Troops typically shout the phrase repeatedly as they pass in front of the main viewing deck overlooking the parade, from which North Korea’s leaders and senior officials observe proceedings.
Meanwhile, around the city, dozens of groups of DPRK citizens could be seen throughout Thursday cleaning streets, repainting buildings, filling holes and pruning shrubs.
All over Pyongyang we are seeing people cleaning streets, repainting buildings, filling holes, and so on.
Also, children everywhere preparing for Sunday’s mass parade.
Looks like authorities are sparing little effort to tidy up the city and prepare its citizens. pic.twitter.com/e7ZxVBtZTt
— Chad O’Carroll (@chadocl) September 6, 2018
The effort appears part of a broader endeavor by authorities to tidy up the city and its hotels as much as possible for the forthcoming anniversary.
Through Wednesday and Thursday, hundreds of youth clad in white uniforms and caps could also be seen training for Sunday’s forthcoming torch parade and mass games events.
A large number of visiting delegations are beginning to arrive in Pyongyang to observe Sunday’s anniversary, though one complained to NK News that financial assistance previously provided by the DPRK was unavailable for his group this time.
The Yanggakdo hotel in Pyongyang was completely cleared of tourists as of Wednesday, which will exclusively accommodate friendship delegations and journalists for the anniversary.
While rapprochement between the U.S. and North Korea meant some observers believed military components would be excluded from Sunday’s anniversary, initial signs from August indicated otherwise.
Satellite imagery analysis by NK Pro showed a probable build-up of military vehicles and soldier formations at the Mirim Airfield in East Pyongyang in early August, while 38 North said Tuesday that more recent imagery indicated “Sunday’s parade will likely be considerably larger than the military parade earlier this year”.
Featured Image: NK News