PYONGYANG, North Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took center stage at a military parade and mass rally in Pyongyang on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of the country’s ruling party by declaring in a rare speech that the North has no intention of straying from the socialist track established by his grandfather and is ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States.
With the eyes of the world upon him, Kim, the youngest and most enigmatic head of state, confidently and firmly delivered the speech from the balcony of the palatial People’s Grand Study House as tens of thousands of his countrymen and an unusually large international media contingent watched from their places below on the capital’s iconic Kim Il Sung Square.
To punctuate his rhetoric, thousands of goose-stepping troops, tanks, armored vehicles, rocket launchers and a variety of missiles mounted on trucks then rolled through the square.
Military aircraft flew in formation overhead, forming the symbol of the Workers’ Party of Korea – a hammer, brush and sickle. Another group of planes formed the number 70 in the sky.
Kim, who is in his early 30s, walked down a red carpet and saluted his honor guard before taking the podium to deliver the often fiery speech.
“Our revolutionary force is ready to respond to any kind of war the American imperialists want,” he said, flanked by visiting Chinese official Liu Yunshan and senior North Korean officials. He said North Korea’s policy of putting its military first has made it “an impenetrable fortress and a global military power.”
But, reflecting North Korea’s international isolation, no world leaders were present.