Floats, flowers in N Korean parade

Mon, Sep 10, 2018 - Page 1

With no long-range missiles on display, North Korea yesterday staged a military parade focused on conventional arms, peace and economic development, to mark the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding.

Line upon line of goose-stepping soldiers and columns of tanks shook the ground before giving way to chanting crowds waving flags and flowers as they passed a review stand where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sat with a senior envoy from China, as well as other visiting foreigners.

Kim was seen laughing and holding hands up with Chinese National People’s Congress Standing Committee Chairman Li Zhanshu (栗戰書) as he oversaw the festivities at Pyongyang’s main Kim Il-sung Square. He waved to the crowd before leaving, but did not make any public remarks.

However, Chinese state television reported that Kim told Li that North Korea was focusing on economic development and hopes to learn from China’s experience in this regard.

Yesterday’s parade highlighted themes of military accomplishment, national development and international engagement at a time when doubts are arising over Kim’s commitment to abandoning nuclear weapons.

Unlike in previous years, there were no intercontinental missiles on display and there were no nuclear tests to mark the holiday, as has happened in the past two years.

One huge float was decorated with a modern train, solar panels, wind power plants and dams, under a slogan of “All our might to build economy,” as men in construction work wear marched alongside it.

The North’s titular head of state, Kim Yong-nam, gave a speech at the parade in which he said the nation had achieved status as a military power and would now pursue efforts to strengthen its economy.

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

“All Koreans should join forces to accomplish unification in our generation. Unification is the only way Koreans can survive,” said an editorial in North Korea’s party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun.

Kim Jong-un and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, are to meet in Pyongyang on Tuesday next week for the start of a three-day summit to discuss “practical measures” toward denuclearization, officials in Seoul have said.

It would be the third meeting this year between the two leaders.