Kim "saluted the columns marching past the tribune of honor in fine array" during a ceremony in front of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the embalmed bodies of the country's founding leader Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il lie in state, the Korean Central News Agency said in a report, monitored in Seoul.
Airplanes also made demonstration flights, it said.
State TV broadcast the ceremony which was apparently scaled back. Outside countries closely watched how the North would celebrate the anniversary amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The country has often used big parades of weapons and missile launches to mark important holidays. But Thursday's "march-past" apparently fell short of a full-scale military parade.
Japan's Kyodo News agency reported earlier that the North's leader reviewed a parade of troops that was not open to the public.
During the ceremony, top military commanders poured out harsh rhetoric.
Strategic Rocket Force Commander Kim Rak-gyom said that the North's "inter-continental ballistic missiles have already set the dens of the brigandish U.S. imperialists as their first target and officers and men of the Strategic Rocket Force are one click away from pushing the launch button," according to KCNA.
The anniversary is one of the North's biggest national holidays.
Earlier in the day, the North's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper published a front-page editorial lauding the country's two late leaders and current leader Kim for making the armed forces strong with "songun" or military-first policy.
The paper also called for expanding the country's nuclear arsenal.
"On the basis of strong nuclear arms are peace, prosperity and happiness of the people," the paper said in another article.
"Giving up nuclear weapons means disarmament ... For us, our nuclear weapons mean the high self-esteem of the Korean people, and nuclear weapons will only be expanded and strengthened."
State TV broadcast a documentary and films lauding the founding leader. (Yonhap)