North Korea kicked off a much-anticipated military parade on Monday, a South Korean military source said, commemorating a major army holiday with a show of strength at a time when Pyongyang has accelerated weapons testing.
The nuclear-armed country stages military parades to mark important holidays and events that feature thousands of goose-stepping troops followed by a cavalcade of armoured vehicles and tanks and culminating with the key missiles Pyongyang wants to display.
Observers closely monitor these events for clues on North Korea’s latest weapons development.
Monday’s parade to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army began at around 10 pm local time (1300 GMT) at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, the source said.
It was widely expected to showcase the North’s most sophisticated weaponry including the “monster” Hwasong-17 ICBM as well as hypersonic and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
North Korea had been widely expected to showcase its military strength to mark the 110th anniversary of the birth of its founder and leader Kim Jong Un’s grandfather Kim Il Sung on April 15, but instead, the day was celebrated with a civilian parade.
Satellite imagery has shown continued preparations since then, with thousands of North Korean troops and scores of vehicles marching in formation at a parade training ground in Pyongyang.
The latest event was expected to be the “biggest ever military parade”, involving around 20,000 troops and the North’s most advanced arsenal, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported at the weekend citing multiple unnamed government sources.