The acting U.S. ambassador in Seoul on Sunday condemned North Korea's plan to hold a massive military parade in Pyongyang on the eve of the Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang.

Marc Knapper, the charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, called the parade a direct challenge to the international community. South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyon said, "It is likely to be an intimidating parade."

It appears North Korea deliberately changed the date of its army anniversary so the parade gets maximum publicity from the Olympics. South Korea and the U.S., by contrast, postponed annual joint military drills until after the games.

Some 12,000 soldiers are expected to march through Pyongyang on Feb. 8, together with conventional arms and new intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Western spy satellites have captured 200-m-long and 50-m-long storage facilities where the missile launch pads are suspected of being stored.

Joint Chief of Staff spokesperson Col. Roh Jae-chun said last Friday he expects the parade to follow a similar pattern as previous ones.

Satellites captured images of 9,000 soldiers and 400 buses mobilized to prepare for the parade at Mirim Airport in Pyongyang. 

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