A massive military parade in North Korea last weekend was arguably the most hotly anticipated event in the country this year, but its organizers still managed to take viewers and analysts by surprise. In a departure from previous daytime processions, the parade was conducted in the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 10, while most of the country slept, with an edited version broadcast on state TV in the evening.
In typically dramatic fashion, North Korea’s young dictator, Kim Jong Un, kicked things off with an emotional 25-minute speech, as onlookers cheered and wept. The meticulously choreographed affair then featured fireworks, a flyover by fighter jets and goose-stepping soldiers marching in formation through a brightly lit Kim Il Sung Square, in central Pyongyang.
Held to commemorate the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea 75 years ago, the parade was an opportunity for North Korea to project strength to domestic and foreign audiences as it copes with crises on multiple fronts, from natural disasters to punishing economic sanctions to the coronavirus pandemic. It was also the regime’s first chance to showcase its new weaponry since talks with the United States over its nuclear program broke down last year.