Was there something sinister happening during North Korea's annual day of military demonstration celebrating the anniversary of the armistice with South Korea? Probably not, despite the mass of goose-stepping soldiers and parade of intimidating missiles.
No one can seem to agree whether or not North Korea subtly debuted some new, long range missiles during yesterday's long military parade. The Associated Press didn't notice new weapons on display during the parade, and that would seem to fit the low key theme to this year's festivities. Despite the pageantry and pomp on massive scale, the parade was practically demure compared to last year's event. And Kim Jong-Un did not speak this year, so there was no bellicose anti-Western rhetoric. Things seemed calm on the surface.
But experts told Reuters new surface-to-air missile defense systems were on display during yesterday's festivities. North Korea observer Nathan Hunt noticed many KN-08 missiles on display, North Korea's fabled long range missiles, though initial rumors of twice as many as last year's parade proved false. Hunt could only count four in this year's parade, while last year's had six.
The country's young leader seemed to enjoy the daylong event entirely devoted to praising his name. Un spent much of the day watching from an observation deck in Pyongyang's central square with Chinese vice president Li Yuanchao keeping him company.
The 1.2 million strong North Korean army practiced for weeks leading up to this year's parade, honoring sixty years since the end of the Korean war, at a nearby airport. Things were so hot during yesterday's festivities that some foreign journalists granted special access in North Korea for the parade noticed some soldiers collapsing from heat exhaustion during the day long parade under scorching temperatures:
After the parade, soldiers collapsed from heat exhaustion. It was scorching hot for hours under the sun in Pyongyang. pic.twitter.com/rd95vEHLcf— Ivan Watson (@IvanCNN) July 27, 2013
In the end, no day of celebration -- even one wrapped in Cold War era military demonstration -- is complete without a healthy dose of fireworks:
[Insets via AP]