North Korea held a military parade at the Kim Il Sung Square on Thursday afternoon in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Army. This event is usually held in April, but it was rescheduled on the day before the opening of the PyeongChang Olympics. The parade featured North Korea’s missile force, Hwasong-ballistic missiles including ICBM and IRBM. Ironically, in the evening on the same day, the art troupe of North Korea gave a performance in celebration of the Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea. They performed Korea’s traditional folk songs, popular songs in North Korea and South Korea.
The military parade was not broadcasted live, nor attended by foreign leaders or press. It is fortunate that the event was held as an internal event, rather than an act of international muscle-flexing, but the appearance of nuclear missiles in the parade was alarming. North Korea appears to be holding a nuclear weapon in one hand, shouting for war and waving friendly to peaceful music with the other.
At the opening ceremony on Friday, Kim Yong Nam, the head of state as stated by the North Korean constitution, Kim Yo Jong, sister of Kim Jong Un, and other high-profile figures of the North Korean regime will be present. The North Korean delegation is likely to deliver Kim Jong Un’s message during their meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Moon will meet with the North Korean delegation and host a luncheon on Saturday. Such an occasion may generate unexpected ideas to promote reconciliation and dialogue between the two countries.
The United States is extremely wary of North Korea’s disturbance strategy. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with President Moon during the state dinner Thursday and stressed the need for pressure and sanctions against North Korea. The United States is determined to prove that North Korea’s peace act is a disguised one. Reaching an agreement between North Korea and the United States does not look easy.
North Korea’s act to please the South may continue for a while. However, it cannot be viewed as normal by the international community if it continues to wield weapons in one hand and promote peace with the other one. The same logic applies to South-North relations. “Denuclearization and improved relations must go hand in hand,” President Moon said in a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier Thursday. Along with his delegation, Kim Jong Un should at least deliver a message that denuclearization could be tabled as an agenda.