N. Korea holds military parade to mark key anniversary: source

SEOUL-- North Korea held a military parade in Pyongyang on Monday evening to mark a key national anniversary, an informed source said, in what was seen as a highly choreographed event to cement internal unity and highlight its military heft.

The North kicked off the parade at Kim Il Sung Square at 10 p.m. on the 90th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army (KPRA), according to the source. The KPRA is the anti-Japanese guerilla force known to have been created by national founder Kim Il-sung in 1932.

It was not immediately known whether the current leader, Kim Jong-un, attended the parade.

In the run-up to the event, satellite imagery had shown the North mobilizing thousands of troops and key pieces of military equipment in apparent rehearsals -- a sign that the parade could be a large-scale display of its military clout.

Observers said Pyongyang could bring up to 20,000 troops for the parade and flaunt its newest strategic weapons, like the Hwasong-17 ICBM, the Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile and a guided weapon carrying a tactical nuclear warhead.

The military aspect aside, the North could liven up the festive mood through fireworks and colorful lights so as to imbue citizens -- still reeling from persistent economic travails and pandemic-driven restrictions -- with a sense of national pride.

Monday's parade was initially expected to begin at the start of Monday, but it did not proceed amid a forecast of rainfall.

It marks the North's first military parade to celebrate the KPRA anniversary under the leadership of Kim, who took power about a decade ago.

The North has usually held such a parade on the birth anniversary of national founder Kim Il-sung on April 15, the founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party on Oct. 10 or the nation's foundation on Sept. 9.

Analysts said Kim might have chosen the KPRA founding anniversary to emphasize his family's illustrious pedigree based on his grandfather's colonial-era fight against Japan to help solidify his legitimacy.

Hours before the parade, the North's state media, including the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), carried articles on the anniversary.

In an editorial, the North's main newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, instead urged all people and the country's armed forces to devote their "absolute loyalty" to leader Kim.

"We must more thoroughly establish the revolutionary discipline and order, in which the party, nation and the people move in unity under the leadership of the central party with the ideologies and intentions of our respected and beloved general secretary boiling within our hearts," it said.

The North usually marks every fifth and 10th political anniversaries with large-scale celebrations.

Under Kim's rule, the North has held 12 major military parades for national celebrations, including this week's event.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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