SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought his young daughter to a huge military parade showing off the latest hardware from his fast-growing nuclear arsenal, including intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to reach the United States, state media said Thursday.
North Korean photos of Wednesday night’s parade in the capital, Pyongyang, showed Kim, wearing a black coat and fedora, attended the event with his wife and daughter, in the young girl’s latest recent public appearance. Kim was smiling and raising his hand from a balcony as thousands of troops lined up in a brightly illuminated Kim Il Sung Square, named after his grandfather and the nation’s founder.
The parade marked the 75th founding anniversary of North Korea’s army and came after weeks of preparations involving huge numbers of troops and civilians mobilized to glorify Kim’s rule and his relentless push to cement the North’s status as a nuclear power.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said the parade featured a variety of nuclear-capable weapons that fuel tensions with its neighbors and the United States, including tactical nuclear weapons targeting South Korea and ICBMs, which the agency described as crucial weapons supporting the North’s “power-to-power, all-out confrontation” against enemies.
Commercial satellite images of the parade released by Maxar Technologies Inc. showed huge, missile-carrying trucks passing the square’s main road as thousands of spectators watched.
Lee Sung-jun, spokesperson for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a briefing that the South Korean and U.S. militaries were closely analyzing the North Korean photos and reports to evaluate the weaponry.
North Korean military parades are closely watched by outside governments and experts, as they often feature newly developed weapons the North intends to test or deploy.
Some experts had anticipated that North Korea would use the parade to showcase a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, which would potentially be a crucial addition to the country’s long-range arsenal targeting the U.S. mainland.
Kim ad supervised a December test of a “high-thrust solid-fuel motor” for a new strategic weapon he said would be developed in the “shortest span of time,” which experts said most likely referred to a solid-fuel ICBM.
The use of solid fuel potentially offers greater mobility for missiles and reduces the amount of launch preparation time. All of the ICBMs the North has flight-tested since 2017 used liquid propellants.
Solid-fuel ICBMs highlighted an extensive wish list Kim announced under a five-year arms development plan in 2021, which also included tactical nuclear weapons, hypersonic missiles, nuclear-powered submarines and spy satellites.
The parade came a day after Kim brought his daughter, Kim Ju Ae, to visit troops to mark the anniversary as he lauded the “irresistible might” of his nuclear-armed military.
Kim Ju Ae is believed to be 9 or 10 years old and his second-born child. Analysts say Kim’s decision to bring his daughter to public events tied to his military is to remind the world he has no intention to voluntarily surrender his nuclear weapons, which he apparently sees as the strongest guarantee of his survival and the extension of his family’s dynastic rule.