North Korea parades military hardware to celebrate founding

A paramilitary parade is held to mark the 73rd founding anniversary of the republic at Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

: North Korea paraded soldiers and military hardware in its capital overnight in a celebration of the nation's 73rd anniversary that was overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, state media reported on Thursday.

The Korean Central News Agency also said fighter jets flew in formation above Kim Il Sung Square, named after Kim's state-founding grandfather. The Rodong Sinmun newspaper published a photo of Kim, wearing a cream suit, waving from a balcony toward the assembled troops and spectators. The reports didn't say if Kim made a speech during the event.

North Korea often celebrates major state anniversaries by displaying thousands of troops and its most advanced military hardware in parades at Kim Il Sung Square. State television hasn't broadcast footage of the parade as of Thursday morning and it wasn't immediately clear what kinds of weapons systems were displayed. Previous nighttime parades were not aired live but a taped broadcast was shown on state TV hours later.

KCNA's report came hours after South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was closely monitoring the North after detecting signs of a military parade.

Amid a stalemate in diplomacy with the U.S., Kim and his sister have emphasized North Korea will boost its nuclear deterrent and preemptive strike capabilities while demanding that Washington abandon its “hostile” policies — a reference to the U.S. maintaining sanctions and refusing to accept North Korea as a nuclear power.

The military parade likely is a measured attempt at pressuring the Biden administration over the diplomatic freeze after Kim failed to leverage his arsenal for economic benefits during the Trump presidency.

But experts say Kim is facing perhaps his toughest moment as he approaches a decade in rule, with North Korea maintaining a border lockdown indefinitely to keep out the coronavirus and with no prospect in sight to end international sanctions.

Last month, Kim Yo Jong berated the United States and South Korea for continuing their combined military exercises, which she said were the “most vivid expression of the U.S. hostile policy.” She and another senior North Korean official threatened unspecified countermeasures that would leave the allies facing a “security crisis.” The allies say the drills are defensive in nature, but they have canceled or downsized them in recent years to create space for diplomacy or in response to COVID-19.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 7:41:00 PM |

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