NSNEWS ONLINE DESK: North Korea is giving a gold-medal brush off to those criticizing its plans to stage a giant military parade the day before the Winter Olympics begin.
The Rodong Sinmun newspaper dismissed as “malicious” allegations that the parade is intended to ruin the atmosphere of the Olympics opening the following day in South Korea.
“Nobody has the right to take issue” with the parade, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s military, the newspaper said.
“This amounts to arguing that we knew 70 years ago the Olympics will take place in the South on Feb. 9, 2018,” said Rodong Sinmun, the official paper 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,” Rodong Sinmun said.
The Hermit Kingdom’s army was created on Feb. 8, but the chilly nation — it was 6 degrees in Pyongyang yesterday — typically celebrates on April 25. The date switch was announced last month.
North Korean soldiers and armored vehicles are rehearsing for the big parade in downtown Pyongyang, satellite photos show.
The parade will likely be a show of military strength featuring thousands of goose-stepping soldiers and a display of the country’s defiant stash of missiles.
The North hastily assembled a group of 22 athletes for this year’s winter Olympics, being held across the demilitarized zone in South Korea.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un announced in his annual New Year’s speech his plan to send a team to the South.
The North’s decision to participate has led to a thaw in relations between the North and South — leading some to dub this year’s Olympics the “Peace Games.”
The North agreed to have its athletes march in the opening ceremonies with the South Korean team, and the two countries are fielding a combined women’s ice hockey team.
North Korea’s decision to take part in the games is seen by some as an effort to ease tensions over its nuclear program and recent missile tests.
Some experts see the North’s cooperation in the Games as an attempt to use improved inter-Korean ties to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions.