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N. Korea holds military parade, showcases new SLBM

North Korea holds a military parade on Thursday.(Yonhap)
North Korea holds a military parade on Thursday.(Yonhap)

North Korea staged a military parade Thursday evening in central Pyongyang, showing off its state-of-the-art weapons, including a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), state media reported Friday.

The parade, held in Kim Il-sung Square, came after Pyongyang wrapped up its eight-day congress of the ruling Workers' Party on Tuesday, at which leader Kim Jong-un pledged to bolster the country's nuclear arsenal.

North Korea appears to be aiming to up the ante ahead of next week's inauguration of Joe Biden as new president of the United States amid uncertainty over Washington's policy direction on currently stalled denuclearization talks.

Unveiled during the parade was a new type of SLBM.

"The world's most powerful weapon, submarine-launch ballistic missile, entered the square one after another, powerfully demonstrating the might of the revolutionary armed forces," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Photos and recorded footage later released by state media showed the SLBMs displayed during the parade labeled as the Pukguksong-5, which looks longer than the Pukguksong-4 SLBM, first unveiled during a military parade in October last year.

The North, however, appears to have not displayed its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Clad in a long black leather coat and wearing a big furry hat, leader Kim attended the event. He was seen saluting back to goosestepping soldiers with smiles on his face and sometimes giving a thumbs-up to the weapons rolling through the square.

He did not address the event. Instead, Defense Minister Kim Jong-gwan delivered a speech.

Kim Jong-un attends the military event on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Kim Jong-un attends the military event on Thursday. (Yonhap)

Columns of armored vehicles moved through the square, followed by state-of-the-art tactical missiles and other weaponry.

Fighter jets were seen flying in formation and drawing the number "eight" in the sky with fireworks in celebration of the eighth party congress.

Thousands of spectators were seen frantically waving flags and chanting "hurrah" to the leader, with some even shedding tears.

Marching soldiers participating in the parade appeared to be breathing heavily as the event took place at night in freezing cold weather. The participants, including leader Kim and other top officials, were not wearing face masks.

Kim's powerful sister Kim Yo-jong was also spotted dressed in a long black leather coat, applauding as the military parade proceeded.

The parade was attended by other senior officials, including Choe Ryong-hae, the North's No. 2 leader, and Jo Yong-won, a senior party official who is believed to have jumped to the country's No. 3 position at the party congress.

Kim Yo-jong applauds the parade on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Kim Yo-jong applauds the parade on Thursday. (Yonhap)

Thursday's parade came two days after the rare party congress which was held for more than a week until Tuesday.

During the congress, Kim unveiled a new five-year economic development scheme focusing on self-reliance in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and Washington-led global sanctions on his regime.

He defined the US as the "foremost principal enemy," saying that his country is developing new weapons systems, such as a nuclear-powered submarine, while pledging to bolster its nuclear arsenal.

Experts said the North appears to be sending a message to the US by showcasing its new SLBM and others ahead of Biden's inauguration. 

North Korea unveils a new SLBM on Thursday. (Yonhap)
North Korea unveils a new SLBM on Thursday. (Yonhap)

"North Korea doesn't need an SLBM. It is not for the South, it's for the US In that aspect, it sends a message aimed at pressuring the US ahead of the incoming Biden administration,"

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, said.

"But the North is not sending a message to the US warning that it will take action. It is sending an unspoken message to force the incoming administration to prioritize North Korea in their policies and to withdraw hostile policy against the North," he added.

Nuclear talks have remained stalled since a no-deal summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in 2019 as they failed to find common ground on how to match Pyongyang's denuclearization steps with Washington's sanctions relief.

Kim has expressed frustration with a lack of progress in denuclearization talks and has called for self-reliance in military, economic development and many other areas.

The North last staged a massive nighttime military parade in October to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the Workers' Party and showed off a new ICBM and an SLBM. (Yonhap)