Thousands of North Korean troops followed by artillery and tanks paraded through Pyongyang yesterday as the nuclear-armed country celebrated its 70th birthday, but it refrained from displaying the intercontinental ballistic missiles that have seen it hit with sanctions.
Instead, leader Kim Jong Un showed off his friendship with China, raising the hand of President Xi Jinping’s envoy as they saluted the crowd together afterward. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as the North is officially known, was proclaimed on September 9, 1948, three years after Moscow and Washington divided the peninsula between them in the closing days of the Second World War.
Such set-piece dates are a mainstay of the North’s political calendar and have for years been opportunities to demonstrate progress in its quest for a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States. But too militaristic a display this time might have risked upsetting the recent diplomatic dalliance on the peninsula, after Kim’s Singapore meeting with US President Donald Trump in June and his third summit with the South’s President Moon Jae-in due in Pyongyang later this month.