North Korea staged a widely anticipated nighttime military parade on Monday, a South Korean military source said, marking the anniversary of its army’s founding with a display expected to include the nuclear-armed country’s latest weapons.
Thousands of troops have been practicing for weeks, commercial satellite imagery showed, and the parade comes after North Korea resumed testing of its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) last month for the first time since 2017.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency earlier reported that North Korea was conducting the parade after sundown, citing unnamed military sources. The event was believed to include some of the North’s newest missiles, including its largest Hwasong-17 ICBM, which was first test-fired last month, the agency reported.
North Korea’s past three military parades occurred after dark, and state media did not report on the events until the next day. State media had not reported a military parade as of Monday night, though outlets had described a number of other commemorative events marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.
North Korean state media on Sunday trumpeted how the country has gained an “invincible power that the world cannot ignore and no one can touch” under leader Kim Jong Un, an apparent reference to its nuclear weapons.
At least 12 illuminated objects were spotted over central Pyongyang at around 9:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) on Monday, Seoul-based NK News reported, saying that they may have been drones or other aircraft.
Pyongyang’s main Kim Il Sung Square was also illuminated and crowds of people were moving toward the area, the website reported.
North Korea often uses the parades to unveil new weapons. Its most recent parades included the Hwasong-17, as well as new hypersonic missiles and missiles launched from submarines.
The events usually include rows of conventional weapons such as artillery and tanks, and tens of thousands of goose-stepping troops shouting “long life” to Kim Jong Un.
Amid stalled denuclearisation talks with the United States and an incoming conservative administration in South Korea, Pyongyang has stepped up weapons tests and displays of military power in recent months.
South Korean and U.S. officials say there are signs that North Korea is preparing to conduct nuclear tests for the first time since 2017.