North Korea holds military parade to celebrate 70th anniversary

Workers at a cosmetics factory in North Korea

Image Workers at a cosmetics factory in North Korea

North Korea on Sunday celebrated the 70th anniversary of its founding with a massive military parade in Pyongyang, but the event was largely understated with the absence of intercontinental ballistic missiles and a speech by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

This year's celebration, however, did not feature the isolated nation's most advanced missiles.

Mr Kim was seen laughing and holding hands up with a Chinese special envoy as he oversaw the festivities at Pyongyang's main Kim Il-sung square on a clear autumn day.

A third summit between Mr Kim and South Korean president Moon Jae-in has been confirmed for later this month.

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Although North Korea stages military parades nearly every year, and held one just before the Olympics began in South Korea in February this year, Sunday's parade came at a particularly sensitive time.

To commemorate the national event, Kim paid a rare visit to a memorial site in Pyongyang where the bodies of his father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung are buried, according to Pyongyang's state-run media.

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Kim told the envoy, Chinese parliament chief Li Zhanshu, that North Korea was focusing on economic development and hopes to learn from China's experience in this regard, Chinese state television reported.

Officials attend the ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in this undated photo released on Saturday by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Before the event, experts speculated that North Korea may choose not to display the weapons to avoid antagonizing US President Donald Trump.

Washington wants Pyongyang to move decisively toward dismantling its nuclear weapons program, but North Korea insists it first wants a declaration that the 1950-53 Korean War is over, as a way of helping guarantee its security and build trust.

There was no sign of the Hwasong-14 and -15 missiles that can reach the mainland United States and changed the strategic balance when they were first tested a year ago.

Scores of pro-North Korea "friendship organisations" and government delegations have been arriving in the North Korean capital during the past few days.

Both the Mass Games and the military parade have been criticized by human rights advocates and North Korean defectors for the pressure placed on performers and for painting a distorted picture of the country through stage-managed displays.

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Floats on unification passed by a throng of North Koreans waving unified Korea flags.

"All Koreans should join forces to accomplish unification in our generation".

But thousands of jovial North Koreans clapped in unison and rallied support for their leader Kim.

The "new line" of putting economic development first has been Kim's top priority this year.

This year's celebrations also mark the revival of North Korea's iconic mass games after a five-year hiatus. The games are a grand spectacle that features almost 20,000 people flipping placards in unison to create huge mosaics as thousands more perform gymnastics or dance in formation on the competition area of Pyongyang's 150,000-seat May Day Stadium.

Kim and Moon will meet in Pyongyang on September 18 for the third time this year to discuss "practical measures" towards denuclearisation, officials in Seoul have said. He claims to have perfected his nuclear arsenal enough to deter USA aggression and devote his resources to raising his nation's standard of living. Theme was peace and economic development.

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