Paramilitary group the Worker-Peasant Red Guards – with 5.7 million members – featured prominently in the parade.
Kim Jong Un has marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of North Korea with a parade of paramilitary forces and promises to deepen ties with China and Russia.
The North Korean leader attended the midnight parade on Friday in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square which was also attended by a visiting Chinese delegation and Russian diplomats, the country’s state Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Saturday.
The event featured “paramilitary forces” from the capital, Pyongyang, state media said, rather than soldiers in the regular army, and it did not appear to showcase the country’s fearsome domestically produced weaponry including intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Images in state media showed uniformed paramilitary brigades, including some riding tractors or in large red trucks, as Kim, flanked by his young daughter, looked on smiling and clapping.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency noted that Kim did not deliver a speech at the event and that the parade was mostly led by the Worker-Peasant Red Guards, a civil defence organisation that is said to have about 5.7 million members.
Kim met with a visiting Chinese delegation led by Liu Guozhong, vice-premier of the State Council, the second such visit by top officials from Beijing in six weeks. Russian diplomats also attended the event, as well as a Russian military song-and-dance ensemble which had arrived in Pyongyang to mark the occasion, KCNA reported.
KCNA said Kim met with Liu and other Chinese delegates ahead of the parade, where they exchanged views on “further intensifying the multi-faceted coordination and cooperation” between the countries.
In July, Kim invited delegations led by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Li Hongzhong to a huge military parade in Pyongyang, where he rolled out his country’s most powerful weapons.
A day before the parade, Kim took Shoigu on a tour of a domestic arms exhibition, which has added to suspicions that North Korea is willing to supply arms to Russia to help in its war on Ukraine.
Moscow expanded its official presence in North Korea shortly before the parade, with its Pyongyang embassy saying this week that it had been allowed to bring in 20 diplomatic and technical staff – the first such rotation of personnel since 2019.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Kim a message marking the anniversary, KCNA said, in which he called for the two countries to “expand the bilateral ties in all respects”.
Kim is expected to travel to Russia this month to meet Putin to discuss weapons supplies to Moscow to support its invasion of Ukraine.
According to Chinese state media, President Xi Jinping “extended congratulations in a call to Kim Jong Un” on the anniversary.