North Korea has held a military parade ahead of the Olympics and amid debate about President Trump’s desire for America to march its weapons through the streets.
Sources told South Korea outlet Yonhap that Pyongyang held the parade on Thursday, one day before the world gathers at South Korea’s Pyeongchang to celebrate the opening of the winter games.
The festivities are held regularly in North Korea at the behest of its supreme leader Kim Jong Un, who Trump earned comparisons to after a report that he wanted to have his own military parade.
Trump’s desire to hold a spectacle in Washington à la France’s military Bastille Day celebrations led some critics to speculate about the motives behind it.
North Korea’s parade on Thursday was held for the 70th anniversary of the founding of its armed forces.
The largest military parades in the country are generally held in April, and the state media photos released of them for global consumption, are often seen as a means of showing off military hardware.
Pictures released last year showed eight-wheeled launch vehicles that were part of Kim’s successful drive for a missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead to the U.S. East Coast.
Thursday’s march included other missile-carrying transporter erector launchers, Yonhap reported.
The U.S.’s more than $600 billion in defense spending, roughly three times the amount of closest rival China, dwarfs the rest of the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
It is unclear if a Trump military parade would see America’s military bring out its most destructive weapons.
North Korea’s march on Thursday comes amid a relative softening of tensions with its southern neighbor as both countries will march under the same flag at the Olympics.
It also shines light on another aspect behind military parades, that they are often parsed for signaling, including signs of aggression.
“I think the goal at home might be that the president is also the commander-in-chief so it looks like a parade to his greater glory. But you can’t do these things in isolation,” the head of the EU Parliament’s delegation to the U.S. Marietje Schaake told the Daily News on Wednesday.
“People around the world may be watching, and if it happens at a moment where there is tension then it could lead to escalation.”