Last October, the Hermit Kingdom allowed international media to watch its largest ever military parade – part of the campaign to establish Kim Jong-il’s youngest son as the leader-in-waiting. Here’s how the AP described the parade:
Thousands of troops from every branch of North Korea’s 1.2 million-strong military, as well as from naval officers’ academies and military nursing schools, goose-stepped around the plaza to the accompaniment of a brass band.
Tanks and trucks loaded with Katyusha rocket launchers and grenades rolled past. They were dwarfed by the series of missiles that paraded by, each larger than the last and emblazoned with: “Defeat the US military. US soldiers are the Korean People’s army’s enemy.”
Ri Yong Ho, chief of the general staff of the North Korean army, said at the event: “If the US imperialists and their followers infringe on our sovereignty and dignity even slightly, we will blow up the stronghold of their aggression with a merciless and righteous retaliatory strike by mobilising all physical means, including self-defensive nuclear deterrent force, and achieve the historic task of unification.”
Despite the bluster, the parade, shot here by Dan Chung for The Guardian, was really mostly intended to introduce Kim Jong-Il’s heir, Kim Jong-Un, to the North Korean people and bolster his image as the successor to the throne. Using giant missile trucks and goose stepping soldiers will do that.