Recent commercial satellite imagery of the Mirim Parade Training Ground indicates that rehearsals have begun for an upcoming military parade, likely to be held next month.
Two images from August 31, taken just 30 minutes apart, show hundreds of vehicles parked in the northwest parking lots adjacent to the parade grounds, and thousands of troops in formations near or in the area that replicates Kim Il Sung Square.
Figure 1. Vehicles parked and troops in formation at 2:17 UTC.
Figure 2. Vehicles parked and troops in formation at 2:47 UTC.
North Korea has been widely expected to hold a major military parade on October 10 this year to mark the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea. These images provide the first evidence that rehearsals are underway.
The Mirim facility, which is located on the eastern side of Pyongyang, is typically used as a rehearsal location for parades. Compared to previous years, training appears to have started slightly later than usual, possibly due to COVID-19 and anti-pandemic measures or severe weather constraints. In 2017, for instance, preparations were observed about two months ahead of the April 15 parade while in 2015, the first signs of preparations for the October 10 parade were observed in May.
In the past, a “tent city” to house and feed the troops participating in the parade was erected at the Mirim Heliport and Mirim Skydiving Club’s airfield. However, this area is now the site of a large building project that has been under construction for several months.
Figure 3. Overview of Mirim Parade Training Ground.
Similarly, makeshift shelters used to be erected in an open lot in the southeast corner of the facility to protect and conceal heavy equipment that would be featured in the parade such as tanks, heavy artillery and transporter-erector-launchers (TELs). This meant some vehicles could be seen in satellite imagery ahead of the parade and the number of shelters gave a sense of how much heavy equipment had been brought in.
However, over the past few months, a large fenced-in area with approximately 100 garages was constructed on this lot. The new permanent buildings provide protection for parade vehicles from both the environment and imaging satellites, making it now impossible to tell based on imagery alone how much or what kind of heavy equipment may be integrated into the parade, short of the equipment being captured during actual rehearsals. That said, numerous tire tracks in the newly concreted area servicing the garages indicate heavy activity has taken place in and around the garages.
Figure 4. Tire tracks visible at newly concreted area.
Image capture by Planet Labs was at 2:17 UTC, and by Maxar Technologies at 2:47 UTC on August 31, 2020.