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North Korea holds late-night military parade again

Posted September. 10, 2021 07:33,   

Updated September. 10, 2021 07:33


North Korea held late-night military parade on Thursday to mark the 73rd anniversary of the nation’s founding. Strategic weapons such as ICBM and SLBM, which were rolled out October 2020 and January 2021 were nonetheless not showcased this time. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, wearing a grey suit, overlooked the military parade but did not deliver a speech.

The military parade was featured for about an hour starting midnight Thursday, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang. North Korea has held three nighttime military parades in just a year—including a military parade held to celebrate the eighth congress of the North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, which started 6 p.m., and a military parade held on Oct. 10, 2020 to commemorate 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Workers’ Party, which started at midnight. Unlike the last two parades, which were prepared at least two months in advance, today’s military parade was prepared less than one month.

Only 8,000 soldiers, a half of its January parade, reportedly participated in the parade. Instead of showing off its new provocative strategic weapons, including ICBM, SLBM, the North Korean version of KN-23 and KN-24, and super-large caliber multiple rocket launchers, and military forces, North Korea mobilized military reserve forces and civil defense units this time.

Experts say that the event was aimed at a domestic audience to solidify domestic unity rather than an attempt to show off its military capabilities overseas, with challenges facing North Korea including economic difficulties and flooding damages.

The Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported the military parade and used the expression‎ “civilian defense and public security forces.” In the parade, the Worker-Peasant Red Guards riding tractors and automobiles took part and displayed conventional weapons, such as a 122-millimeter rocket and anti-tank missiles with comparatively weak force. Workers from the Ministry of Public Health, who were in charge of the country’s COVID-19 prevention measures, also took part in the parade. A South Korean government official said on condition of anonymity that the scale of weapons and equipment at tonight’s event was less than half of the parade in last January.

Although North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended the event for 11th time since he became the country’s supreme leader, Central Committee secretary Ri Il Hwan delivered a speech where he emphasized the principle of self-reliance and self-development. The speech included neither any message related to strategic weapons nor message regarding North Korea-U.S. or inter-Korean relationships.

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com