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Professor James Hoare, of London’s School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) also suggested the decision to hold a large scale military parade – including two new strategic missiles – at dawn was intended to keep crowds to a minimum and therefore a tacit acknowledgement that the Hermit State had been impacted by COVID-19, despite the lack of official confirmation. The parade was one of a number of events organised to mark the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, one of the most important days in the DPRK’s calendar.
During his speech, Kim thanked the military for help in recovering from a series of damaging storms over the summer and praised the country’s efforts to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
Prof Hoare said: “The speech also seems to have been prerecorded – it did not go out live.
“It seems to have been somewhat emotional but that may have been a degree of acting.”
The US was carefully not mentioned – perhaps a sign that they are getting a bit concerned that Trump is not going to win and thus they would have to deal with a – probably hostile – Democratic administration
Professor James Hoare
Kim has met Mr Trump on a total of three occasions since 2018 and sent him a message wishing him well after the US President’s COVID-19 diagnosis at the start of this month – but neither he nor Mr Biden was mentioned in his speech, a fact Prof Hoare suggested was significant.
He explained: “The US was carefully not mentioned – perhaps a sign that they are getting a bit concerned that Trump is not going to win and thus they would have to deal with a – probably hostile – Democratic administration.
“I do not think North Korea would be high on Biden’s agenda, somehow.”
In general, Prof Hoare detected a softening compared with the more belligerent tone of earlier this year.
He said: “The friendly gestures to the ROK and to President Moon continued.
“There has clearly been a change of heart since the spring.”
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The parade featured two previously unseen projectiles – a Pukguksong-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which was particularly noteworthy because at between 25 and 26 metres in length, it is the world’s largest ICBM.
Officially North Korea has no cases of COVID-19.
Prof Hoare said: “It is odd that the parade of weapons apparently took place before dawn – quite who saw it is not clear.
“Fifth and tenth anniversaries are always treated as special – but perhaps the pre-dawn parade was a way of marking it but without the risky business of large crowds.”
Former BBC journalist Roy Calley, who chronicled his time as a tourist in North Korea in his book, Look With Your Eyes and Tell the World, said he took was “surprised” by the early start.
He told Express.co.uk: “The missile was in my opinion just showing off to the people, and I don’t think there was a message being sent.
“I always think that foreign media outlets look at these parades and see something sinister in them.
“The people of NK see them as a celebration of their country and the strength that they believe they have (after being told).
“If there was a war mongering speech, then I’d be concerned, but there’s little difference here to all the other parades down the years.”
Mr Calley said he was not surprised to see that nobody attending any of the anniversary events had been wearing masks.
He explained: “It’s a huge celebration in the country and so masks would ruin the spectacle.
“I doubt they’re being worn regularly anyway.”
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