North Korea puts on a show for Day of the Sun

Updated 5:49 AM EDT, Sat April 15, 2017
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Story highlights

Soldiers chant: 'We will die for you'

Kim Jong Un smiles and claps as he watches the military parade

(CNN) —  

North Korea put its military might on display during a parade in the heart of Pyongyang while the regime showed off some of its latest arsenal.

Pictures on state television showed thousands of soldiers marching in formation alongside tanks, balloons and enormous crowds.

Leader Kim Jong Un was shown clapping and smiling from a reviewing box.

At one point, the soldiers directed a chant toward him.

“We will die for you!” they yelled, CNN’s Will Ripley, who was at the event, reported.

During the pomp and circumstance at Kim II Sung square, citizens showed their revolutionary fervor with choreographed performances while vehicles displaying North Korea’s military arsenal rolled by.

“We saw a submarine launch ballistic missiles, we saw missiles that are capable of being launched from a mobile launcher and just seconds before we came on the air we saw these very large what are believed to be intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Ripley said as jets tracked colors of the North Korean flag in the sky during the parade.

In a live broadcast, a newsreader from North Korea’s state-run television service called the new military hardware the country’s “modernized strategic missiles.”

“No nation in the world develops missiles and shows the real thing during a parade, it’s just too dangerous,” Markus Schiller, a weapons expert with ST Analytics, told CNN that parades always involve “mock-ups”. “If anything happens, it blows up, right next to the ‘Dear Leader’.”

For North Koreans, April 15 is an auspicious date that sees millions celebrate the birth of the nation’s founder.

Tens of thousands descended on the streets of the capital as the nation marks the 1912 birth of Kim Il Sung, grandfather of Kim Jong Un.

This year’s celebrations come at a tense time on the Korean Peninsula, days after a US strike group was deployed to the region and amid expectations of another missile or nuclear test by Pyongyang.

North Korean state media warned that such “reckless acts of aggression” would be countered with “whatever methods the US wants to take.”

North Korean soldiers carry flags and a photo of late leader Kim Il Sung as they march across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade on Saturday.
Wong Maye-E/AP
North Korean soldiers carry flags and a photo of late leader Kim Il Sung as they march across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade on Saturday.