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(LEAD) N. Korea holds smaller, low-key military parade

All Headlines 17:30 February 08, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea staged a curtailed military parade Thursday to mark the founding day of its armed forces, the day before the Winter Olympics begin in South Korea, a government source here said.

"South Korea and the United States learned that North Korea's military parade started at 11:30 a.m. (Seoul time)" at Kim Il-sung Square in the capital city, the source said.

It lasted only about one and a half hours and featured a reduced program, while the country's leader Kim Jong-un appears to have been in attendance, according to the source, who asked not to be named.

In a rare move, the North also skipped the live broadcast of the street event, which outside observers view as an attempt to keep it low-key.

The North began its most recent previous military parade at 10:05 a.m. on April 15 last year and finished at 12:56 p.m., broadcasting live, the source said. The event was to commemorate the 105th anniversary of the birth of the nation's founding leader Kim Il-sung.

North Korea shows its Pukguksong submarine-launched ballistic missile during a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017, in a photo from North Korean TV footage. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

The allies are analyzing weapons and other equipment that appeared at Thursday's parade, the source said.

The secretive North had been preparing for the military event to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Korean People's Army, according to multiple reports mainly based on satellite imagery.

Another South Korean government source said the movement of missile-carrying transporter erector launchers (TELs) was detected, apparently as part of the preparations.

The North used to mark the military holiday on April 15, but it recently announced a date switch to Feb. 8.

Dismissing criticism about such a military event on the eve of the opening of the Olympics south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), the North's state media said the schedule has nothing to do with the global sports festival.

The parade came on the eve of a trip here by the North Korean leader's younger sister Kim Yo-jong as part of a high-profile delegation to the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Games.


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