According to several sources, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un has ordered 600,000 people to evacuate the capital city of Pyongyang. The report originally appeared in Pravda, but a reporter for Channel News Asia tweeted that foreign journalists have been told to prepare to move out of the capital – without their cell phones.
Reports in Russian newspaper Pravda Report claim more than 600,000 people – around 25 per cent of the city's population – are being urgently evacuated, as tensions escalate between North Korea and the United States.
According to South Korean media, residents in the kingdom have said goodbye to each other, sparking concerns the tyrannical leader could be about to act after months of nuclear weapon testing.
Foreign reporters have been told to prepare for a "big and important event" on North Korea's biggest national celebration, called 'Day of the Sun'.
A tweet from Channel NewsAsia's Beijing Correspondent Jeremy Koh said: "We've been told to be ready to move out at 6.20am, but no idea why. Also, no cell phones allowed."
More than 200 foreign journalists are in Pyongyang as the country marks the 105th birthday of its founding president Kim Il Sung on April 15.
Officials in North Korea have already warned nuclear war could break out at any minute thanks to the "extremely tense" situation on the Korean Peninsula.
The US sent a navy strike group towards the Western Pacific in a show of force, with North Korea retorting with warnings of a nuclear attack in retaliation to any show of aggression.
China has also moved 150,000 soldiers close to the North Korean border in preparation for war.
The move comes after president Trump launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield in response for the country's brutal chemical attack which left 79 civilians dead.
North Korean officials have given no clues as to the nature of the "surprise event" or where it would take place.
However, past announcements of a similar nature have turned out to be relatively low-key.
1. The U.S. is moving a carrier strike force to the Korean peninsula.
2. China has moved 150,000 troops to Korean border to handle an expected flood of refugees if an attack occurs.
3. Kim has threatened to use nukes if provoked.
4. Reporters are being told to expect a "big event," while some reports – perhaps not reliable – claim that Kim has ordered the partial evacuation of the capital.
Taken together, the signs are ominous. But should these stories be understood as being part of a pattern? Or is the juxtaposition of all this information a coincidence?
Certainly, prudence demands the former. But if you've read Barbara Tuchman's "Guns of August," you might recognize that it's entirely possible that the confluence of events could easily lead to misinterpretation, and what seems bellicose or ominous as part of a pattern is actually separate reactions to similar events.
Nothing takes place in a vacuum, of course. But we may be reading too much into what's really happening in North Korea. Intelligence reports indicate that Kim may be readying another nuclear test to coincide with the North's national holiday, the "Day of the Sun," which honors the birth of North Korea's founder, Kim Il-sung. Or Kim may be about to order another missile test. Either event could be misinterpreted and lead to war.
So even if there's nothing really ominous about these events, tensions are so high that a misunderstanding or an error could let loose the dogs of war on the Korean peninsula.