In an amazing reversal, North Korea’s largest parade in decades was subdued on Sunday. Some observers say it was another result of the historic and successful summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
North Korea rolled out some of its latest tanks and marched its best-trained goose-stepping units through Kim Il Sung Square in a huge military parade on Sunday to mark its 70th anniversary, but something was missing. Absent were it most advanced missiles, its ICBMs. They were replaced by peaceful displays of civilian efforts to build the domestic economy.
The strong emphasis on the economy underscores leader Kim Jong Un’s new strategy of putting economic development front and center. That was something that President Trump said would happen if the North gave up its nuclear ambitions.
The media is again ignoring that good news as they have most of the positive developments that resulted form the Trump-Kim summit.
But the images are hard for anyone to ignore.
Tens of thousands of North Koreans waving brightly colored plastic bouquets filled Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square as the parade began. Pyongyang residents have been training for months for the anniversary and held up the bouquets to spell out words and slogans that can be seen from the VIP viewing area.
Kim attended the morning parade but did not address the assembled crowd, which included the head of the Chinese parliament and high-level delegations from countries that have friendly ties with the North.
Senior statesman Kim Yong Nam, the head of North Korea’s parliament, set the relatively softer tone for the event with an opening speech that emphasized the economic goals of the regime, not its nuclear might.
In another astonishing indication of the direction and intentions of the North, he called on the military to change its focus to economic, not militaristic goals.
Kim’s effort to ease tensions with President Donald Trump continues since their June summit in Singapore as details of denuclearization are worked out by negotiators after Trump and Kim set the framework. But it is not without the usual road bumps of give-and-take.
Both sides are now insisting on a different starting point. Washington wants Kim to commit to denuclearization first, but Pyongyang wants its security guaranteed and a peace agreement formally ending the Korean War – something that has been talked about as possible by the administration.
The “new line” of putting economic development first has been Kim’s top priority this year. He claims to have perfected his nuclear arsenal enough to deter U.S. aggression and devote his resources to raising the nation’s standard of living.