September 10, 2021 13:43
North Korean troops in colorful hazmat uniforms paraded through Pyongyang in the small hours of Thursday morning to mark the country's 73rd anniversary.
No strategic weapons like intercontinental ballistic missiles or submarine-launched ballistic missiles were displayed during the parade in Kim Il-sung Square, but there were service dogs, mounted troops, tractors, and motorcycles.
Greeted with a 21-gun salute, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wore a brightly colored suit and a tie on the podium and was holding hands of a little boy and a little girl.
He did not deliver a speech. In his stead, Ri Il-hwan, a secretary of the Workers Party, said the regime "will firmly defend the dignity and the fundamental interests of our people and solve everything our own way with our own efforts on the principle of self-reliance and self-development under any circumstances."
Marching in the front of the parade were a contingent of Pyongyang municipal party members who had taken the lead in recent flood restoration efforts, followed by red guards from the provinces. A mechanized unit of red guards drove motorcycles and tractors carrying conventional weapons such as 122-mm multiple rocket launchers and anti-tank missiles.
A midnight dance party by young men and women followed and fireworks crackled in the night sky. The regime seemed to focus on tightening controls and displaying the people's loyalty to Kim rather than a show of force to the outside world.
Intelligence authorities here said the event only took about an hour and a half, much shorter than the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the party on Oct. 10 last year.
Normally, the regime prepares for a military parade for about two months, but this time it rehearsed for less than a month.
"The latest parade was aimed at tightening controls and cheering up civilians who were mobilized in efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic and recover from flood damage," a government official here said. "They seem to have made the utmost efforts to create a festive atmosphere because they can’t afford a full-size military parade amid protracted international sanctions and food shortage."
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