North Korea parades military hardware to celebrate founding

By By Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press

North Korea paraded goose-stepping soldiers and military hardware in its capital overnight in a celebration of the nation’s 73rd anniversary overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, state media reported Thursday.

The Korean Central News Agency also said fighter jets flew in formation above Kim Il Sung Square, named after Kim Jong Un’s state-founding grandfather.

The Rodong Sinmun newspaper published a photo of Mr Kim, wearing a cream suit, waving from a balcony toward the assembled troops and spectators.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks with children during a celebration of the nation’s 73rd anniversary at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea (Korean Central News Agency/AP)

The reports did not say if Mr Kim made a speech.

North Korea often celebrates major state anniversaries by displaying thousands of goose-stepping troops and its most advanced military hardware in parades at Kim Il Sung Square.

State television had not broadcast footage of the parade as of Thursday morning and it was not immediately clear what kinds of weapons systems were displayed.

North Korean soldiers parade during a celebration of the nation’s 73rd anniversary (Korean Central News Agency/AP)

Previous night-time 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 they were closely monitoring the North after detecting signs of a military parade.

Military hardware is seen during the parade (Korean Central News Agency/PA)

Amid a stalemate in diplomacy with the US, Mr Kim and his powerful sister Kim Yo Jong have emphasised North Korea will boost its nuclear deterrent and pre-emptive strike capabilities while demanding that Washington abandon its “hostile” policies.

That is a reference to the US maintaining sanctions and refusing to accept North Korea as a nuclear power.

North Korean soldiers on horses Korean Central News Agency/PA)

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

But experts say Mr 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.

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