North Korea anniversary parade: Kim Jong-un rallies enormous army to assert his power

Satellite images reveal details of the regime's parade, the biggest event since Kim Jong-un came to power

Zachary Davies Boren
Friday 09 October 2015 09:57
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Kim Jong-un is celebrating his party's 70th anniversary with a giant military parade
Kim Jong-un is celebrating his party's 70th anniversary with a giant military parade

Kim Jong-un has rallied an enormous army for the parade celebrating the North Korean dynasty’s 70th anniversary, satellite images have revealed.

The secretive regime has set up a tented city and mobilised hundreds of military vehicles in preparation for the party’s grand celebration on Saturday, the country’s biggest event since Kim Jong-un ascended to power in 2011.

Photos taken by the US-Korea Institute on Tuesday show around 800 tents, more than 600 trucks and more than 200 armoured vehicles at a former air base in the east of Pyongyang.

Intelligence suggests the military has been running drills for the event since May.

It is thought that the main event will involve ballistic missile launchers, which haven’t been captured on film. Seven drones on mobile launchers, however, can be identified in the images.

Though officials have not publicly announced the schedule for Saturday's events, the day is expected to kick off with the military parade and a rally at Kim Il-sung Square.

The event will likely culminate in the evening, with a parade by torchlight and a concert by the Taedong River.

(John Hopkins School/Associated Press)

It is not known if Kim himself will speak publicly, though he did offer journalists a close-up photo opportunity two years ago when the country held an elaborate celebration for the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

To make sure everyone taking part in the spectacle plays their part, public plazas have been filled with people practicing marching, flag-waving and slogan-shouting.

On Thursday, crowds of students waving red flags and women in brightly colored traditional clothing could be seen in the area around the square.

"We are very proud of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of our party, it's an honor for us, and with this anniversary we will demonstrate our invincible single-hearted unity," Chang Yong-ho, a student who will be taking part, said.

North Korea's leadership often uses anniversaries to rally the nation behind the military or the party, while at the same time reinforcing the primacy of the leader himself.

The emphasis on celebrating the birth of the party in as grand away is seen by analysts as a sign that Kim Jong Un is trying to build up the party's standing relative to the military.

Though both institutions are strong, the power balance among various government organs in North Korea is a delicate one and maintaining that balance is a key to keeping Kim's leadership solid and unchallenged.

Additional reporting by AP

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