North Korea has seemingly sought to divert some international attention away from the start of the Winter Olympics with a military march Thursday in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army.

The celebration is typically held in April but was conspicuously moved up to Feb. 8 this year — one day before the Winter Games' opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea. While Feb 8, does hold some historical significance as the original date of the holiday celebrating the army’s founding, experts believe the timing of this year's march was not a coincidence. 

Kim Jong Un, dressed in a black overcoat and hat walked a red carpet alongside wife Ri Sol Ju, to a viewing station to oversee the parade that rumbled through Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square. The parade appeared to be smaller than past years, according to the BBC. It was also not shown live on North Korean television, as is customary, and foreign media were largely excluded from the event, which was another break from protocol.

Kim provided a short televised address that included no mention of the Olympics but did call North Korea “world-class military power.”

The parade showcased several Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missiles. A Hwasong-15 test launch last year showed that North Korea theoretically could target anywhere in the U.S. with a ballistic missile. The parade did not appear to include North Korea’s full arsenal of missiles.

It was also announced Thursday that Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader’s sister, will be headed to the Olympics and meet with South Korean President Moon Jae In.

Her visit is widely seen as a further attempt to ease tension with South Korea.

While North Korea has drawn international headlines ahead of the Olympics, Vice President Mike Pence, who arrived in South Korea on Thursday, continued criticism against North Korea’s authoritarian tactics despite signs of recent diplomatic progress.

“As we speak, an estimated 100,000 North Korean citizens labor in modern-day gulags,” Pence said in a speech to U.S. troops in Japan before his trip to South Korea “Those who dare raise their voices in dissent are imprisoned, tortured, and even murdered; their children and grandchildren routinely punished for their family’s sins against the state.”

Pence had invited the father of an American student who died after being imprisoned in North Korea as a guest at the Olympics. Otto Warmbier, who visited North Korea as a college student, spent 17 months in captivity for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda poster. In June 2017, Warmbier was returned to the U.S. in a coma before his death six days later.

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un spoke of the country's military might during a speech given in conjunction with a military parade. Photo: NKTV Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1 A North Korean military parade was held to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the army. Photo: NKTV