Despite an Olympic thaw between Pyongyang and Seoul, North Korea is planning to hold a military parade on the eve of the world's most well-recognized sporting competition, Yonhap News Agency of South Korea said Thursday, citing an unidentified South Korean government source.
"We believe the North will hold a military parade on February 8th to mark the anniversary of the birth of its regular forces," the source was quoted as saying, adding that the parade would involve some 12,000 soldiers, artillery pieces and other weapons.
At the same time, the South Korean defense ministry spokesman refused to comment on "any matters of military intelligence."
North Korea has been holding military parades to mark a variety of events. In April, 2017, Pyongyang staged a large event, commemorating the 105th anniversary of the North's founder and showcasing the country's weaponry, featuring what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Apart from proposing to take part in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang during his new year speech, Kim Jong-un unveiled plans to "organize combat drills like real battles" during the current year to mark the army's 70th anniversary.
Earlier this year, Kim Jong-un ordered to open a hotline with the South to discuss the country's participation in the 2018 Olympics, with the two parties holding a delegation meeting a week later.
The two sides have agreed on the participation of North Korea's athletes in the games, with the latter marching with the South under one flag at the opening ceremony and on the creation of a united team in women's ice hockey.
However, despite the agreements between the two Koreas and a bilateral decision between South Korea and the US to suspend joint military drills, the latter has decided not to let its guard down in the region, with US forces deploying a trio of nuclear-capable B-2 Spirit bombers in Guam on January 11 and the USS Wasp amphibious assault ship in Japan, a few days later.