By Kim Deok-hyun
SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has been amassing its military forces and arms near its capital Pyongyang from last month for a big national event that appears related to the upcoming rare meeting of its ruling party, South Korea's defense ministry said Tuesday.
"A large number of soldiers, armored forces and artillery have been moved to near Pyongyang since July," the ministry said in a report submitted to the National Assembly.File photo
"North Korea's military is preparing to hold a massive national event in Pyongyang," it said, adding it believed the North was planning a large military parade in September, when Pyongyang is scheduled to convene a meeting of Rodong (Workers') Party delegates, and also to mark the party's 65 anniversary in October.
The North's top leader, Kim Jong-il, who reportedly suffered a stroke in the summer of 2008 and still ailing in the aftermath, is believed to be preparing to hand over power to his third and youngest son, Jong-un.
The heir-apparent is heavily shrouded in secrecy, and even his age has yet to be confirmed other than that he is in his 20s.
North Korea watchers speculate the younger Kim will make his public debut at the party's September session, which opens for the first time in 44 years. The date of the meeting has not been announced.
The elder Kim has ruled North Korea since his father, Kim Il-sung, died in 1994, marking the communist world's first hereditary power succession.
Meanwhile, the South's military plans to deploy more surveillance devices near the western maritime border with the North to better cope with artillery firing by the communist regime, the ministry report said.
Early this month, North Korea fired a barrage of artillery at waters near the Yellow Sea border, shortly after the South's military ended its own naval drills.
Relations between the two Koreas plunged to their lowest point in years after a South Korea-led multinational investigation blamed North Korea in May for sinking one of its warships. Forty-six sailors were killed in the North's torpedo attack, but Pyongyang has repeatedly denied its involvement.
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