By Oh Seok-min
SEOUL, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- Nearly 10,000 troops have been observed at a major airfield in North Korea recently, a possible sign that the communist country is preparing for a military parade to mark major anniversaries, sources said Thursday.
The troops and military vehicles have been spotted at the Mirim Parade Training Ground in the country's capital city since a few days earlier, and the South Korean military is closely monitoring related activities, according to government sources.
The Mirim airfield has been a venue for the North to conduct rehearsals for military parades organized to mark important anniversaries, such as the establishment of its communist government that falls on Sept. 9 and the Oct. 10 founding anniversary of the ruling Worker's Party.
Earlier in the day, 38 North, a U.S. website monitoring the North, also tweeted, "Troop formations are observed at #DPRK's Mirim Parade Training Ground in Pyongyang." DPRK is the acronym of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"Practice for big parades generally begins one to two months in advance (sometimes more). This could indicate an upcoming military parade in October," it added.
Last year, the North held a massive military parade to mark the 75th party anniversary, and unveiled a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and several other advanced military assets.
The last known military parade took place in January this year after Pyongyang wrapped up its eight-day party congress. During the event, leader Kim Jong-un pledged to bolster the country's nuclear arsenal.
The latest move came after North Korea warned of a "serious security crisis" in protest over the combined military exercise between South Korea and the United States, which was staged last month.
The North has not responded to the South's regular phone calls via liaison and military hotlines since last month and remains unresponsive to the U.S.' offer for dialogue.
"We've kept close tabs on North Korea's related activities in close coordination with the U.S. intelligence authorities," an official of Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. "Further analysis is needed to learn the exact intent of such military activities."
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