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article imageNorth Korea defends military parade before Olympics

By AFP     Feb 3, 2018 in World

North Korea on Saturday defended its plan to stage a military parade the day before the opening of the Winter Olympics in the South.

Pyongyang plans to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of its military on February 8.

The annual parade was held on April 25 for years, but the government announced last month that starting this year, it would take place on February 8.

"Nobody has the right to take issue" with the event, said Rodong Sinmun, the official daily of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party.

"It is a custom and very basic common sense that any country in the world takes the founding anniversary of its military very seriously and celebrates it."

The Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, open on February 9.

Satellite photos have shown North Korean soldiers and armoured vehicles apparently rehearsing for a parade that could be seen as a show of military strength.

Critics have accused Pyongyang of rescheduling the parade to ruin the atmosphere at the Winter Olympics.

Rodong Sinmun dismissed the allegations as "malicious", noting that North Korea's regular army was created on February 8 seven decades ago.

"This amounts to arguing that we knew 70 years ago the Olympics will take place in the South on February 9, 2018," the newspaper said.

South Korean unification minister Cho Myoung-Gyon's recent comment that the parade is "highly likely to be a threatening one" also prompted a warning from the paper.

Such criticism, the Rodong Sinmun said, would sour the opening of the Winter Olympics.

The North is participating in the Games after its leader Kim Jong-Un abruptly announced his willingness to attend in his New Year's address.

The move was seen as an attempt to ease searing tensions on the Korean peninsula over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.

North Korea on Monday called off a joint cultural performance with the South ahead of the forthcoming Winter Olympics to protest criticism of the military parade by South Korean media.

More about skorea, NKorea, Politics, oly, 2018
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