North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, raises hands with China's third highest ranking official, Li Zhanshu, during a parade for the 70th anniversary of North Korea's founding day in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday. Photo: AP/Ng Han Guan
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N Korea stages huge military parade; holds back on advanced missiles

18 Comments
By ERIC TALMADGE

North Korea rolled out some of its latest tanks and marched its best-trained goose-stepping units through Kim Il Sung Square in a major military parade on Sunday to mark its 70th anniversary, but held back its most advanced missiles and devoted nearly half of the event to civilian efforts to build the domestic economy.

The strong emphasis on the economy underscores leader Kim Jong Un's new strategy of putting economic development front and center.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans waving brightly colored plastic bouquets filled Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square as the parade began. Pyongyang residents have been training for months for the anniversary and held up the bouquets to spell out words and slogans that can be seen from the VIP viewing area.

Kim attended the morning parade but did not address the assembled crowd, which included the head of the Chinese parliament and high-level delegations from countries that have friendly ties with the North.

At the end of the two-hour event he strolled to the edge of the balcony with the Chinese special envoy, Li Zhanshu, who is also the third-ranking member in China's ruling Communist Party. The two held up their joined hands to symbolize the countries' traditionally close ties, though the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping could indicate Beijing still has some reservations about Kim's initiatives.

Senior statesman Kim Yong Nam, the head of North Korea's parliament, set the relatively softer tone for the event with an opening speech that emphasized the economic goals of the regime, not its nuclear might. He called on the military to be ready to work to help build the economy.

After a truncated parade featuring tanks and some of its biggest artillery, fewer than the usual number of missiles and lots of goose-stepping units from all branches of the military, the focus switched to civilian groups ranging from nurses to students to construction workers, many with colorful floats beside them.

The combining of military and civilian sections is a familiar North Korean parade format.

The past two big anniversaries of North Korea's founding, in 2008 and 2013, did not feature the Korean People's Army, only the civil defense units, which are officially called "Worker Peasant Red Guards."

Although North Korea stages military parades almost every year, and held one just before the Olympics began in South Korea in February this year, Sunday's parade came at a particularly sensitive time.

Kim's effort to ease tensions with President Donald Trump has stalled since their June summit in Singapore. Both sides are now insisting on a different starting point. Washington wants Kim to commit to denuclearization first, but Pyongyang wants its security guaranteed and a peace agreement formally ending the Korean War.

With tensions once again on the rise, a parade featuring the very missiles that so unnerved Trump last year, and led to a dangerous volley of insults from both leaders, could have been seen as a deliberate provocation. The North also refrained from immediately televising the event, though North Korean media were out in force to film it, deploying booms and — for possibly the first time — drones with cameras.

Capital residents unable to attend at the square lined the streets around town to cheer and applaud convoys carrying the troops after they complete the parade duties.

Soon after the Sunday celebrations end, Kim will once again meet in Pyongyang with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss ways to break the impasse over his nuclear weapons.

The "new line" of putting economic development first has been Kim's top priority this year. He claims to have perfected his nuclear arsenal enough to deter U.S. aggression and devote his resources to raising the nation's standard of living.

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

The mass games involve tens of thousands of people holding up placards or dancing in precise unison and are intended to be a display of national unity. This year's spectacle — tickets start at just over $100 and go up to more than $800 per seat — also has a strong economic theme.

An unofficial translation of its name this year is "Our Shining Nation."

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.


18 Comments
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Repugnant conservatives will attempt to twist Kim's decisions regarding this parade into something that Trump did. They have no shame or dignity or integrity.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Would of loved to go, but last time my visa was cancelled on the Chinese border because I live in japan.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Would of loved to go, but last time my visa was cancelled on the Chinese border because I live in japan.

Dod this really happen? I've always wanted to visit the DPRK.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yes. So I enjoyed China instead. There is a good tour service kyo... I can’t advertise but you can find in an internet search.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"holds back on advanced missiles"

Not only that, they're going to de-nuke by the end of Trump's first term.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Good luck: Thanks.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Not only that, they're going to de-nuke by the end of Trump's first term.

Say the two people with the least credibility: Trump and Kim.

Kim controls everything in regards to actually denuclearizing. If he chooses, he can't make his people suffer even further under increased sanction but he'll still have his nukes.

Taking a deep breath and thinking past the end of your nose will help prevent one from coming across as ignorant or severely under-educated. As in below the 9th year under-education.

We are playing 128 dimensional chess, not checkers.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Big Orange Child-Man is absolutely orange with envy!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Another missed opportunity by Abe, and every opportunity counts. NK is the last diplomatic battle that Japan has to face and Japan can't afford to fail. Fortunately, Japan isn't alone, and can launch an initiative through trilateral forum of Japan-SK-China. Unfortunately, Japan-SK-China golden triangle isn't going too far since Abe taking control 5 years ago. Time to change and time to say good bye to "threats from neighbors".

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Trump has been ineffective on North Korea.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

"Trump has been ineffective on North Korea."

So says a supporter of Obama, who was most definitely ineffective on N Korea during his eight years. Trump has over 6 years to go, though he won't need all of that to be effective on N Korea.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

It is a positive gesture. In any peace process, responding to the other parties gestures (cancelling the USA - Sk anual military exercises) is the natural way forward.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If/when the DPRK fails to denuclearize by the end of Trump's term, will we hear even one mea culpa?

The intelligence angicies know more than Trump, or any poster here. Wait . . . Trump supporters believe in a nuttier than squirrel pooh conspiracy theory that the intelligence community is corrupt and only out to get Trump.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

GoodlucktoyouSep. 9  03:56 pm JST

Would of loved to go, but last time my visa was cancelled on the Chinese border because I live in japan.

But, if you ever get to go....

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Chip StarSep. 9  04:24 pm JST

Would of loved to go, but last time my visa was cancelled on the Chinese border because I live in japan.

Dod this really happen? I've always wanted to visit the DPRK.

Sarcasm?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Ex_ResToday  05:27 am JST

It is a positive gesture. In any peace process, responding to the other parties gestures (cancelling the USA - Sk anual military exercises) is the natural way forward.

What is the point of having the most powerful, and best equipped, military in the world if you don't allow it to learn how best to use that equipment, just in case the Dear Leader of a country with which you are, technically, still AT WAR has another brain-f*rt and decides to rekindle the unresolved conflict.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Gremlin: Not sarcasm that I want to visit the DPRK. Unlike Japan, the DPRK is truly a unique country. The Kim dynasty has actually caused North Koreans to be measurably shorter than South Koreans because of faminine and malnutrition. That's repugnant, but a first in recorded history.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Chip StarSep. 10  07:03 pm JST

Gremlin: Not sarcasm that I want to visit the DPRK.

Chip Star: Sincere apologies for misinterpreting your comment as sarcasm - given some of the banter in the various threads here, I hope you understand.

Unlike Japan, the DPRK is truly a unique country.

I agree, the Kim dynasty has certainly left its mark.

The Kim dynasty has actually caused North Koreans to be measurably shorter than South Koreans because of faminine and malnutrition. That's repugnant, but a first in recorded history.

Please don't put that on your application for a visa to visit the DPRK - seriously.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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