North Korea’s Kim Jong Un couldn’t hold back the tears while giving an emotional address during a massive military parade held in the predawn Saturday to mark the 75th anniversary of the country’s founding.
The portly despot began blubbering when he thanked the “great people” of North Korea for “zero” cases of COVID-19.
“I wish good health to all the people around the world who are fighting the ills of the evil virus,” he said.
David Maxwell, a North Korea specialist at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the Post, “I wouldn’t be duped by Kim’s emotions.”
“The bottom line is that this parade was to demonstrate military capabilities and to lay the groundwork for future blackmail diplomacy against South Korea to gain concessions against the US after the November elections,” he continued.
Kim unveiled a series of strategic weapons, including a new intercontinental ballistic missile, at the parade, which was the biggest in years and began late Friday night. The ICBM is a missile capable of reaching the US mainland.
Speaking from Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square, Kim said he would “fully mobilize” his country’s nuclear force if threatened when he appeared at the huge celebration just after midnight Saturday.
His address was less strident than in years past, however. Kim did not directly criticize the US and instead urged citizens to stand firm despite facing “tremendous challenges” from COVID-19 and tough US sanctions, The Associated Press reported.
“I don’t think he wants to embarrass Trump before the election,” Sean King, an Asian specialist at Park Strategies told the Post. “He’s showing he has the ICBM but he’s not testing it because Trump has made clear that an ICBM or another nuclear test is his red line.”
King added: “Trump is the only US president who will ever sit with a North Korean leader. Trump is pretty good for Kim and Kim has a lot invested in Trump. If Biden wins, Kim would have to start all over.”
Kim showed off other hardware including a submarine-launched ballistic missile and North Korea’s version of Russia’s Iskander short-range ballistic missile in a tape-delayed broadcast on North Korean state television, the Yonhap news agency in South Korea reported.
North Korean state TV also aired footage of goose-stepping troops marching in the streets in front of the well-lit square while a military band performed while moving in formation.
Tens of thousands of spectators, as well as the performers, let out a collective roar as Kim appeared just as the clock struck midnight. Wearing a gray suit and tie and flanked by aides, Kim waved at the crowds and kissed children who had brought him flowers, the AP said. He also said he hoped the country could repair bilateral ties with South Korea once the pandemic is over.
None of the attendees wore masks, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Kim’s claim that North Korea is COVID-19-free has been questioned by outside analysts.
Several North Korea experts told the Post that it was unusual to hold a military parade in the predawn hours but they could only speculate as to why — saying it was possible that North Koreans wanted the cover of darkness to protect certain sensitive details about some of the weapons that were rolled out.
This year’s anniversary comes amid deadlocked nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration and a declining economy.
Kim and Trump have met three times since embarking on high-stakes nuclear diplomacy in 2018 but the talks went nowhere because of disagreements on disarmament steps and the removal of sanctions imposed on the North.
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