North Korean authorities cancelled a planned musical event set to be held this evening to mark a major military anniversary, a source in Pyongyang told NK News on Friday.
Invitees to the event, which was set to mark the 71st anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and be attended by members of the diplomatic community in Pyongyang, were not given a reason for the cancellation, the source said.
This year marks only the second time since 1977 that the foundation of the North Korean army has been celebrated on February 8, with the date commemorating the creation of the KPA having been moved to April 25 the following year.
But DPRK authorities last year announced that the country would again begin celebrating what they called “Army-Building Day.”
Celebrations of the anniversary last year saw the DPRK hold a major military parade in central Pyongyang, at which were showcased several of the then-recently tested Hwasong-14 and 15 rockets.
This year, however, Pyongyang appears to have opted for a more low-key series of events.
State media coverage of the holiday so far has been limited to reporting on a Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces-hosted reception on Wednesday, a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) editorial hailing the anniversary, and a meeting between political workers and war veterans, among others.
News of the event’s cancellation comes amid a high-profile visit to the North Korean capital by U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun.
The visit is his second in a year, having previously travelled to Pyongyang with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last October.
He arrived Wednesday morning, and is believed to be holding talks with North Korean counterpart Kim Hyok Chol on, among other issues, a planned upcoming DPRK-U.S. summit.
Though the U.S. Special Representative was widely expected to return to Seoul today, South Korean presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-keum on Friday morning told reporters that was “still in Pyongyang.”
Kim was also unable to confirm when Biegun would return to Seoul, or whether he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during his visit to Pyongyang.
Additional reporting by Chad O’Carroll and Dagyum Ji
Featured image: DPRK Today
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