But in this case, what could have been an innocent volleyball match may have meant something else.
Unusual activity at a North Korean nuclear base: playing volleyball.
Analysts studying satellite images of North Korea stumbled upon something unexpected in 2017: three volleyball matches in different areas of the country’s nuclear test site.
The – surprise – images were taken on April 16 of that year, as tensions rose on the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang had just held a military parade in honor of the 105th birthday of the nation’s founder, Kim Jong-il, and appeared to be preparing for a sixth nuclear test.
It was also reported that the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinsen was heading toward the Japanese Sea to dissuade the North Korean government from conducting the test; it later turned out that U.S. vessels were heading in the opposite direction.
North Korea Sends An Indecipherable Message
The volleyball matches, played during an international crisis, were probably meant to send a message, analysts say, as North Koreans are aware that the site is under the world’s scrutiny. But the meaning of those messages is unclear. But at the Punggye-ri site in the northern mountains, teams were busy at volleyball matches near the main administrative building, guard barracks, and command center support area.
Volleyball is a popular sport in North Korea, as we said early, and satellite images had already captured matches in progress in Punggye-ri. But never three at the same time. There’s also a chance that it was nothing more than just a friendly game. But I guess we’ll never know, as it usually happens in politics.