Thursday, September 23, 2021

Parades In North Korea

North Korea held a military parade at midnight on September 9, the 73rd anniversary of the establishment of the regime. The late-night military parade was filled with unusual sights compared to past military parades. It reflects Chairman Kim Jong-un's unique style of governance. A member of the Far East Research Problem Study Center gives the readers of the Catholic Peace Weekly in the Diagnoses of the Times column some thoughts on North Korea.
Chairman Kim has always been unpredictable. Almost all domestic media predicted that strategic weapons such as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) would appear at this parade. However, instead of the regular army equipped strategic and tactical weapons, the reserve army, the Workers and Peasant Red Guard, police, the Social Security Force, were mobilized. The mechanized units of the Labor and Peasant Red Guards riding on motorcycles and tractors, were mobilized and attracted attention. A fire engine manufactured by German Mercedes-Benz also appeared. It was also unusual that the Emergency Quarantine Guard in charge of quarantine of the new coronavirus infection, marched wearing orange protective suits and gas masks. North Korea called the military parade a "civilian security force parade" for the first time.
What is the purpose of holding the military parade in the midst of the worsening economic hardship due to COVID-19? The labor force has more than 2 million troops and military equipment. The labor force is organized in all of society, including businesses, cooperative farms, and universities.

These are the reserve forces that are focused on economic projects in peacetime and become armed forces during wartime.The military parade has the purpose of showing off their comprehensive national defense capabilities, but at the same time it also has the character of a festival.

On the occasion of the establishment of the North Korean regime, the festival atmosphere was raised through celebratory nights and outdoor art performances from all over the country, gathering the hearts of the people tired of triple hardships: COVID-19,  sanctions against North Korea and low  morale. In other words, it is a North Korean-style prescription to soothe the public tired of COVID-19.
This is also the reason why three consecutive night parades were held in less than a year, including the parade commemorating the 8th Labor Party Congress in January of this year and the parade commemorating the 75th anniversary of the party's founding on October 10 last year. During difficult times, the North Korean authorities hold military parades to inspire people's pride in their country, and to achieve nation  building through internal solidarity. 
The biggest task facing the Kim Jong-un regime now is to achieve the economic construction goal set at the 8th party congress. The labor force is not only a local defense armed force, but used as a catalyst for internal solidarity and to energize the populace.  Looking at the composition of this military parade, only those related to agriculture, youth, economy, and people's livelihood, participated. The military parade was used to encourage the people to be more active in the implementation of the five-year economic plan in their  workplaces.

The military parade is also a place to enforce the promises to the people. The ultimate goal of the current Kim Jong-un regime is to build a socialist state. In order to achieve this goal, "we are carrying out grandiose operations for the overall revival and development of the country and the promotion of the welfare of the people." At the same time, the government  emphasized that "the people's first principle should be thoroughly implemented in state activities and social life in general." This leads to a message that we should prioritize economic work and focus our efforts on improving people's living standards. After all, the parade is not only a place to show off combat power and unity, but of festivity and to remind them of their promises to the people. 

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