SEOUL – Foreign journalists visiting North Korea have been told to prepare for a “big and important event” on Thursday, although there were no indications it was directly linked to tensions in the region over the isolated state’s nuclear weapons program.
Around 200 foreign journalists are in Pyongyang as the country marks the 105th birth anniversary of its founding president Kim Il Sung on April 15, North Korea’s biggest national day called “Day of the Sun.”
Officials gave no details as to the nature of the event or where it would take place, and similar announcements in the past have been linked to relatively low-key set pieces.
In 2016, for example, foreign journalists underwent hours of investigation by North Korean officials ahead of what turned out to be a pop concert to mark the finale of a ruling Workers’ Party congress.
But tensions are running high, with a U.S. Navy strike group steaming toward the western Pacific in a show of force and North Korea warning of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression.
North Korea nuclear test
North Korean monitoring service 38 North said Wednesday the country’s Punggye-ri nuclear site is “primed and ready” for a sixth nuclear test.
“The activity during the past six weeks is suggestive of the final preparations for a test,” 38 North analyst Joseph Bermudez told CNN.