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(6th LD) N. Korea holds military parade to mark ruling party's founding anniv.

All News 19:28 October 10, 2020

By Koh Byung-joon and Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea held a nighttime military parade to mark the 75th founding anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday, state TV showed Saturday.

Leader Kim Jong-un attended the parade, where rifle-toting troops marched in neat columns through Kim Il Sung Square in the center of Pyongyang, as smiling spectators applauded, according to footage of the parade that the North's Korean Central Television began airing at 7 p.m.

It is not clear exactly when the parade was held, but the broadcast appeared to be recorded footage.

Earlier in the day, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the North appeared to have staged a massive parade at dawn involving a large amounts of equipment and personnel.

It is the first military parade that the North has held since 2018.

This photo, released April 16, 2017, by the Rodong Sinmun, a daily of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, shows presumed-to-be new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) disclosed for the first time at a military parade in Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang to mark the 105th birth anniversary of the late founder of North Korea Kim Il-sung the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korea has been expected to roll out "new strategic weapons," including a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), that Kim pledged to show off in his New Year's Day message amid stalled denuclearization talks with the United States.

North Korea is believed to have three types of ICBMs -- the Hwasong-13, Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15, and it has sought to develop a multiple-warhead ICBM that can fly further and is harder to intercept.

The Hwasong-15, which is the most advanced version so far, has an estimated range of 12,874 kilometers and is capable of striking any part of the continental U.S. The type was last test-launched on Nov. 29, 2017.

"We are analyzing details of the weaponry that Pyongyang displayed today," a JCS officer said. "No unusual movements by the North Korean military have been detected."

The North tends to mark every fifth and 10th anniversary with larger-scale events, such as military provocations, including missile launches and parades of troops, newly developed strategic weapons and other military hardware.

It is quite unusual for the North to stage a military parade before dawn. Past parades have all been held during daytime hours.

"Instead of the blaze of publicity, North Korea also seems to be trying to manage the situation ahead of the U.S. elections," professor Kim Young-jun of the Korea National Defense University said.

"The unexpected predawn event also seems to aim to make it harder for the outside world to learn details of its military assets," he added.

Despite little progress in negotiations with Washington, leader Kim appeared to have maintained good relations with U.S. President Donald Trump. One day after the U.S. first couple were diagnosed with the new coronavirus, Kim sent a letter to Trump and offered his "sympathy."

The COVID-19 situation could also have affected the decision as a nighttime event might have helped it mobilize a fewer number of people so as to minimize antivirus steps.

The communist country has called for all-out efforts against the new coronavirus, though it has claimed the country does not have a single virus case.

In August, leader Kim Jong-un presided over a key party meeting and instructed officials to prepare "at the best level all the celebrations with peculiar style as a great political festival to be provided as an excellent gift to the 75th birth anniversary of the WPK," according to state media.

"North Korea might have tried to make the event look like a kind of festival, rather than a show of force, in consideration of relations with the U.S.," the professor added.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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