North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared on a platform in Kim Il Sung Square and waved to the crowd, but Rodong Sinmun said no mention of him was made.
North Korea pundits noted that pictures of Kim appeared to show the North Korean leader was losing weight and backed a June state media report in which he was losing weight.
“It’s amazing how much healthier Kim Jong Un looks in yesterday’s photos,” tweeted Martyn Williams, a fellow working on the 38 North Project at the Stimson Center. “But he does – and there are theories – he looks a lot better than he did a few months ago.”
State media reports did not mention Kim Jong Un’s sister or senior official Kim Yo Jong.
During the parade, planes flew over Pyongyang and fired flares, and paratroopers fell from planes into the night sky, Rodong Sinmun said.
Down the street, marching bands led a parade that included workers, research units and an “emergency disease prevention unit,” she added.
The notoriously withdrawn country cut almost all of its connections with the outside world in 2020 to prevent an influx of coronavirus cases. And it seems to have worked to this day.
North Korea has not reported a major Covid-19 outbreak, and there has been no evidence of it, although experts doubt Pyongyang’s claim that the country has not seen a single case of the virus.
Most, if not all, foreign diplomats and aid workers have left the country citing the shortage of goods and extreme restrictions on daily life.
In June, Kim fired several senior officials who failed to enforce North Korea’s strict Covid-19 prevention, the state-run news agency KCNA reported. It appears that some upper echelons of Korea’s ruling Labor Party have been replaced, KCNA said.
Troops and tractors, but no missiles
The first photos from Thursday’s parade showed nothing of North Korea’s missile arsenal. New or updated versions of the country’s missiles are often shown during military parades.
During a parade in January, the North Korean military revealed what analysts said was a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). Last October, North Korea unveiled what analysts believe is one of the largest ballistic missiles in the world at a military parade.
But the weapons shown in pictures from the square early Thursday were of the smaller battlefield variant – or as mundane as tractors – as well as legions of troops.
“The members of the parade, which marched through the streets of the capital, responded warmly with a firm promise to advance the strengthening of fighting skills and to defend the back of the socialist homeland rock hard,” the KCNA report reads.
Ri Il Hwan, a member of the Politburo and secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, gave a speech at the parade, according to the KCNA, saying North Korea would “increase the People’s Army, a pillar in the defense of the state.” “And will ramp up its defense industry to” turn the whole country into a fortress “.
CNN’s Joshua Berlinger contributed to this report.