New Construction at the Mirim Parade Training Ground

Commercial satellite imagery from May 13 indicates there is a new major construction project underway at North Korea’s Mirim Parade Training Ground in Pyongyang.

The Mirim facility is best known as a rehearsal ground for military parades, containing a full-size replica of Kim Il Sung Square to practice processions and formations. The area includes a number of facilities, including a Heliport, Skydiving Club and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) airfield, a Flying Club and airfield, the April 25 Hotel and the large Mirim Riding Academy.

In advance of previous military parades, a temporary “tent city” would be erected in the area of the Heliport, often extending down to the skydiving/UAV airfield, likely providing housing and support for troops deployed to prepare the infrastructure for the arrival of soldiers and equipment. The empty field immediately to the south would often be used as a heavy/large equipment storage area for the training ground.

On April 23, NK News reported a buildup of temporary structures at the Heliport area between April 18 and 22, which appeared consistent with early signs of parade training preparations. However, activity observed in subsequent imagery from April 30 to May 13 indicates that these support structures are more consistent with the sturdier temporary housing and support areas seen around other major construction sites in North Korea. This is supported by the emergence of a new major construction project nearby.

Figure 1. Overview of the Mirim Parade Training Facility.

Image © 2020 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-nc-sa 4.0. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected].

In the area south of the UAV airfield, approximately 80-95 square meters of ground scarring and other preparations for foundation work were first observed on imagery from April 30. By May 6, individual building foundations could be seen, although with limited detail. By May 13, the foundations for several structures—at least four—are clearly visible, with the first floor of one building and half of another already built.

The pace of construction on this new facility seems aggressive, similar to what’s happening at the new Pyongyang General Hospital, with the temporary housing taking up around 75 percent of the helipad area and several trucks observed in and around the construction site, staging area, and housing section. However, what they are building is unknown.

Figure 2. Close-up of areas previously used for parade support and storage.

Image © 2020 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-nc-sa 4.0. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected].

Figure 3. Close-up of new construction site with support and staging areas.

Image © 2020 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-nc-sa 4.0. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected].
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