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(LEAD) N.K. vows to celebrate key April anniversaries as 'big' events

2017/04/03 14:01

(ATTN: ADDS more info in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, April 3 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Monday it plans to mark its two key anniversaries slated for April, including the birthday of the country's late founder, as "big" political festive events, hinting at a massive military parade.

The Rodong Sinmun, the country's main newspaper, cited the 105th birthday of Kim Il-sung, which falls on April 15, and the 85th anniversary of the creation of the Korean People's Army on April 25.

"The meaningful April holidays should be marked as big political festive events that can be remembered in the national history," the newspaper said.

North Korea usually holds big military events or parades at anniversaries whose final numbers end in a five or a zero. The North's April calendar is full of such anniversaries.

As the country has conducted nuclear tests and launched a long-range rocket around its key anniversaries, there is a high possibility that Pyongyang could stage provocative acts this month, analysts said.

North Korea is believed to be preparing for a massive military parade at Mirim Airport in Pyongyang in a bid to show off its military prowess at the military's founding anniversary.

"The military parade may be held on April 25 to display its military power," a government source said.

This image captured from footage of North Korea's state-run broadcaster on April 15, 2012, shows North Korea holding a military parade at a plaza in Pyongyang on the 100th birthday of late founder Kim Il-sung. (Yonhap) This image captured from footage of North Korea's state-run broadcaster on April 15, 2012, shows North Korea holding a military parade at a plaza in Pyongyang on the 100th birthday of late founder Kim Il-sung. (Yonhap)

The country's last military parade, the largest ever, was held Oct. 10, 2015, the 70th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

The North's military parades are closely watched by outside experts to get a glimpse of the North's latest missile programs and other new military equipment.

North Korea may put its strategic missiles on display, such as a newly developed intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), called the Pukguksong-2, at the parade, analysts said.

But there is a possibility that the North could hold the parade on the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the current leader Kim Jong-un.

North Korea unveiled its intercontinental ballistic missile known as the KN-08 for the first time in its military parade to mark the 100th birthday of the founder in 2012.

South Korea's unification ministry said it is closely watching North Korea's possible provocations around major anniversaries.

"We are calling on North Korea to refrain from making provocative acts and (make efforts) for the improvement of inter-Korean ties," Lee Duk-haeng, ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing.

Other April events warranting observation include the country's parliamentary meeting slated for April 11. North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), the rubber-stamp parliament, will hold a plenary session next week amid heightened inter-Korean tension sparked by Pyongyang's nuclear and missile provocations.

North Korea will mark the fifth anniversary of the current leader being elected the first secretary of the National Defense Commission on April 13. Kim Jong-un assumed power in late 2011 following the sudden death of his father.

The date is also the 25th anniversary of Kim Il-sung being awarded the title of grand marshal.

This photo provided by Japan's Kyodo News on Oct. 10, 2015, shows North Korea holding a massive military parade at the 70th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. (Yonhap) This photo provided by Japan's Kyodo News on Oct. 10, 2015, shows North Korea holding a massive military parade at the 70th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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