On Saturday, October 10, North Korea celebrated the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), the country’s ruling party. The occasion was celebrated in a grand way, with an unprecedented pre-dawn military parade. Thousands of uniformed military personnel marched through Pyongyang’s renovated Kim Il Sung Square in perfect unison, trailed by scores of heavy military vehicles.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un kicked the occasion off with a public address. An emotional Kim acknowledged that 2020 had been a difficult year for the country. North Korea locked its borders down early this year, acknowledging the coronavirus pandemic as a possible threat to its “national survival.” Kim claimed that not a single case of the disease had been detected in North Korea—a claim disputed by experts. He went on to apologize nonetheless for shortfalls in his promises of economic development, citing a difficult external environment amid international sanctions and the spate of natural disasters that struck the country this summer, including multiple floods and typhoons.
But Kim’s core message stuck to familiar themes, emphasizing that the WPK’s leadership would see North Korea through dark and difficult times. He also emphasized his continuing commitment to national defense—albeit without directly using the world “nuclear.” “We will continue to strengthen the war deterrent, the righteous self-defense means, so as to contain and control all the dangerous attempts and intimidatory acts by the hostile forces, including their sustained and aggravating nuclear threat,”