Published: Sun, September 09, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

N. Korea Stages Huge Parade, Holds Back on Advanced Missiles

N. Korea Stages Huge Parade, Holds Back on Advanced Missiles

Troops, artillery and tanks have made their way past leader Kim Jong Un in the centre of Pyongyang, but the largest missiles shown were short-range battlefield devices, according to reports.

In his New Year's message in January, Kim had pledged to celebrate the country's 70th anniversary with "utmost grandness" after declaring the completion of nuclear capability and vowing to shift its focus to economic development.

Beijing is its neighbour's key diplomatic protector and trade partner, and after years in the deep freeze over the North's missile and nuclear tests their ties have warmed rapidly this year, with Kim visiting China three times to meet President Xi Jinping.

That speech was markedly toned-down when compared to a speech by Kim Jong Un at February's military parade, in which he called on the people to "spur to prepare for the fight" against the U.S.

38North have however not noted any missile launch preparation despite the warnings from defectors earlier this year.

The factory tours were meant to occupy - and enlighten - us journalists before the big event today: the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

While it remains to be seen what kind of weaponry will be rolled out at the parade, North Korea is clearly trying to switch its emphasis away from just military power to its efforts to improve the country's domestic economy. "Unification is the only way Koreans can survive", read a Sunday editorial in communist-party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

"It looks like the North Koreans really tried to tone down the military nature of this", said Chad O'Carroll, managing director of Korea Risk Group.

Kim Jong Un and his South Korean counterpart Moon will meet in Pyongyang on September 18-20 for the third time this year and discuss "practical measures" toward denuclearization, officials in Seoul have said.

Holding their elbows out at 90 degrees participants dash from position to position to form slogans and other shapes filling the square in the centre of Pyongyang

Both leaders want agreements made before beginning a new round of talks.

Sunday's military parade was the first since Kim and Trump held their historic summit meeting in June in Singapore.

With tensions once again on the rise, a parade featuring the very missiles that so unnerved Trump previous year, and led to a unsafe volley of insults from both leaders, could be seen as a deliberate provocation.

Mr Kim was seen laughing and holding hands up with a Chinese special envoy as he oversaw the festivities at Pyongyang's main Kim Il-sung square on a clear autumn day.

North Korea staged a huge military parade on Sunday to mark the 70th anniversary of the nation's founding as a nation, with tens of thousands of people waving brightly colored plastic bouquets as the parade began.

This year's celebrations also mark the revival of North Korea's iconic mass games after a five-year hiatus.

Both the Mass Games and the military parade have been criticized by human rights advocates and North Korean defectors for the pressure placed on performers and for painting a distorted picture of the country through stage-managed displays.

At one point jets trailing red, white and blue smoke - the colours of the North Korean flag - roared above the Juche Tower, the stone monument to Kim Il Sung's political philosophy.

A concert on Saturday night attended by Kim Yong Nam and foreign delegations featured little in the way of martial messaging or images, with only a few shadowy American bombers shown briefly in footage of the 1950-1953 Korean War.

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