Parade Training Underway

Commercial satellite imagery of a training ground in Pyongyang shows several hundred personnel in formation, likely signaling a forthcoming parade. North Korea does not announce these kinds of events in advance, but over the last several years, training at the Mirim Parade Training Ground has usually begun one to several months ahead of the festivities.

Figure 1. Overview of the Mirim Parade Training Ground.

Image Pleiades © CNES 2022, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]

Training Activity

Imagery from February 5 shows several hundred personnel in formation on the practice area at the center of the complex. The area is designed to be a replica of Kim Il Sung Square in the heart of Pyongyang. Additionally, at least one smaller formation of personnel is visible marching on a road at the site.

Figure 2. Close up of parade ground with personnel in formation.

Image Pleiades © CNES 2022, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]

In front of the April 25 Hotel, which is a large housing complex on the western side of the site, over 240 coaches are parked. This is a higher number than is typically seen at the site and more than what would be needed to support the relatively small number of people on the parade ground. It is possible more personnel are present at the site but were not practicing when the image was taken, which was at 11:36 (KST) on Saturday morning. Saturdays are typically when ideological education takes place in North Korea.

There are also approximately 45 vehicles parked inside the hotel courtyard and around 25 more parked just outside of it.

Figure 3. Coaches visible outside the April 25 Hotel.

Image Pleiades © CNES 2022, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]

On the opposite side of the training ground, approximately 35 tents are visible in the courtyard of a building that was constructed in 2020. The precise nature of the building is unclear, but it bears some architectural resemblance to the hotel on the other side of the ground.

These tents first appeared in late January, although small numbers of personnel have been visible on the parade ground since December 2021.

Figure 4. Tents visible at the Mirim Parade Training Ground.

Image Pleiades © CNES 2022, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]

Also notable is what’s missing at the site. The secure vehicle storage area, which is thought to be used for large military vehicles and missile launchers, has been cleared of snow but is otherwise quiet.

Ahead of previous parades, large numbers of trucks and other military vehicles are often parked in the fields around the parade practice area. In the current image, no such vehicles can be seen. That could indicate an upcoming event will consist largely of people or that they are yet to arrive.

While North Korea doesn’t publicize event plans, there are several upcoming anniversaries that could be occasions for parades including, February 16, which is the 80th anniversary of the birth of Kim Jong Il, and April 15, which marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung.

On January 20, South Korea’s military said it had detected signs that North Korea is planning a military parade based on activity at Mirim, although no heavy equipment has yet been captured in commercial satellite imagery.

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