North Korea held a “paramilitary and public security” parade in Pyongyang to commemorate the country’s creation day, according to state media.
The event, which took place in the early hours of Thursday at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang and included an aerial display by fighter planes, was attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
Kim, dressed in a light beige suit, was photographed waving to the crowd below from a balcony. The parade included troops on horseback, dog-handling teams, and military equipment, as well as soldiers dressed in orange biohazard suits.
The parade is the third in less than a year for the nuclear-armed country. Previous nocturnal parades were not shown live but were carried on state television several hours afterward.
During recent diplomatic engagements, Pyongyang has continued to pursue its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, both of which are globally sanctioned, and has used such occasions to show off its latest missile capabilities.
In a predawn military display in October, Kim unveiled previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missiles, showcasing the country’s long-range weaponry for the first time in two years. In January, there was also a military parade at night.
The event, which took place days before Joe Biden’s inauguration as US president, featured a submarine-launched ballistic missile dubbed by KCNA as the “world’s most powerful weapon.”
There didn’t appear to be any huge military gear or new missiles on display at the most recent parade.
Jets were heard flying overhead and fireworks went off in the city centre about midnight and again at 1 am (16:00 GMT).
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as the North is officially known, celebrates its 73rd anniversary on Thursday.
As he approaches a decade in power, experts say Kim is facing his biggest test yet, with North Korea maintaining a prolonged border lockdown to keep the coronavirus out and little possibility of lifting international sanctions insight.
Since the failure of the Hanoi summit between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump over sanctions relief and what North Korea would be ready to give up in exchange, nuclear talks with the US have been at a halt.
The Biden administration has promised a “practical, calibrated approach” to persuade the impoverished North to give up its forbidden weapons programmes, including diplomatic attempts.
Pyongyang looked to have begun its plutonium-producing reprocessing reactor at Yongbyon last month, prompting Kim’s sister and top adviser Kim Yo Jong to urge the departure of US forces from the peninsula, calling it a “deeply troubling” development.
The parade, according to Hong Min, a senior researcher at Seoul’s Korea Institute for National Unification, might be a method to convey a “message to the international community” without risking conflict, but it would also help improve spirits.