No Military Parade as North Korea Celebrates Founder’s Birth | Political news
Tens of thousands of people flock to Pyongyang’s main square to watch light shows and art exhibitions honoring Kim Il Sung.
North Korea marked the 110th anniversary of late founder Kim Il Sung’s birth on Friday with fireworks, a procession and a gala evening in Pyongyang’s main square, but without a planned military parade.
Pyongyang, which has the nuclear weapon, usually uses the holiday – known as Day of the Sun – to show off its latest weapons.
But while this year’s event follows a wave of weapons testing – three weeks ago the country carried out its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test since 2017 – there were no parade sign.
Leader Kim Jong Un visited his grandfather’s mausoleum and attended a “national meeting and public procession” in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square, but made no reported public remarks. A senior official spoke at the meeting, saying North Korea will overcome all difficulties and always emerge victorious, the official KCNA news agency reported.
State media broadcast live footage of a gala evening in the square after sunset on Friday, following concerts, art exhibitions and ideological seminars.
There was also a festival of lights in central Pyongyang, with dancing fountains and decorated boats on the Taedong River, KCNA said.
The festival “artistically depicts” Kim Il Sung’s birthplace and “the sacred mountain of the revolution, Mount Paektu”, KCNA said. Residents could take photos in front of arches lit with phrases such as “Pyongyang is the best” and “We are the happiest in the world”.
“I came to see the festival of lights with my daughter. Looking at it today is really cool. The most impressive thing in particular is this one that says ‘autonomy,'” Ri Bom Chol, a 40-year-old doctor, told an AFP news agency reporter in Pyongyang.
‘Love is forever’
Analysts, as well as South Korean and US officials, expected North Korea to mark the occasion with new weapons, or even a test of the country’s banned nuclear weapons.
But there was no mention in state media of any military parade.
“The Kim regime needs more sources of national pride and legitimacy than military parades,” Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said in an email. “Thus, public commemorations around the birthday of its founder have attempted to portray an economy that is not only resilient but growing, and a society that is not only cohesive but also modern and happy.
“But this does not represent a change from North Korea’s military buildup. Kim Jong-un’s stated goal of deploying tactical nuclear weapons, Kim Yo-jong’s recent threats against Seoul, and satellite images of tunneling activity in Punggye-ri all point to an upcoming nuclear test. Additional missile launches are also expected to perfect weapon delivery systems.
Seoul-based specialist site NK News said analysis of satellite imagery suggested the training was taking place at the Mirim military parade training base, with a few thousand soldiers marching in formation. Planet Labs footage had also shown a growing number of tire marks around a secure garage for heavy weapons at the site, suggesting training was taking place, he added.
Experts say April 25 – the anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s military – is the most likely next date for the parade.
“Since the two anniversaries are only 10 days apart, it seems a bit difficult to hold a parade each time,” Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of Northeast Studies, told AFP. Seoul Koreans.
Kim Il Sung died in 1994, but he is the country’s “eternal president”, and his preserved body is on display in a red-lit chamber at Kumsusan Sun Palace on the outskirts of the capital.
North Koreans are taught from birth to revere Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il, and all adults wear badges depicting one or both men.
“As the days pass, the desire for a great leader grows,” Ri Gwang Hyok told an AFP reporter in Pyongyang as they visited the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
“Love is forever,” said Ri, 33.