North Korean people wearing medical masks have gathered in the capital of Pyongyang, state media reported this week,
ahead of what is expected to be a big military parade on Saturday, possibly featuring the country's latest ballistic missiles.
The holiday marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, and events include art and industry
exhibitions, a light show, visits to monuments and ceremonies to mark the completion of construction projects.
Officials in South Korea and the United States say that North Korea could use the parade to show off a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
"Such an event is extremely risky in that if only a few people were COVID-19 positive in the crowd they could create a
deadly super-spreader-like event," said Harry Kazianis, senior director of Korean Studies at the Center for the National Interest in Washington.
"There is a possibility that North Korea will unveil new strategic weapons, such as new intercontinental ballistic missiles
or submarine-launched ballistic missiles, to draw attention at a time when its economic achievements have
been sluggish," the South's Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, said on Thursday.
North Korean chief Kim Jong Un has not displayed ICBMs at a parade since he first met U.S. President Donald
Trump in 2018, however their talks have stalled and Pyongyang has signalled rising impatience with Washington.
State media outlets showed photos of large crowds of delegates and other visitors masks as they arrived for holiday events.
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