Tens of thousands of citizens lined the streets as a military parade featuring armored vehicles, heavy artillery, missiles and thousands of goose-stepping troops rolled regally across Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Square Sunday as the country celebrated its 70 anniversary in style.
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Just seven months ago, a similar parade was held in the same square on the eve of the Winter Olympics in neighboring South Korea.
The North also refrained from immediately televising the event, though North Korean media were out in force to film it, deploying booms and - for possibly the first time - drones with cameras.
North Korean gymnasts perform in the Arirang Mass games celebrating the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sept. 9, 2018.
Kim was seen laughing and holding hands with Li as he oversaw the celebrations.
Kim visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where his father and grandfather lie embalmed, with top officials for the first time since 2012, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
People wave plastic flowers and flags during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Despite no agreement yet between Pyongyang and Washington on the denuclearization process the two agreed to at their landmark Singapore summit in June, and with Pyongyang demanding the United States agree to a peace treaty to end the 1950-53 Korean War, there have, over the last week, been some encouraging signals.
Kim presided over the parade on Sunday along with the head of the Chinese parliament and other high-level delegations from countries that have friendly ties with the North.
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Some residents interviewed by national broadcaster NHK described awakening to find their relatives and next-door neighbors gone. Authorities are sending power-generator vehicles to hospitals so they can accept emergency patients when needed, he said.
"It's favorable to both of them, but especially to North Korea", said Choo Jaewoo, a professor of Chinese foreign policy at Kyung Hee University.
The theme for the celebrations this year was unifying the Korean peninsula, divided since the 1950-53 Korean War. "@FoxNews This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea".
At present, DPRK's socialist construction has taken on a new look in various fields as the country concentrates on the economic development and improvement of people's livelihood under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, Xi said.
But that has been dropped this year, underlining Mr Kim's stated aim for denuclearising the Korean peninsula and his recent meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and summits with US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
CNN reporter Will Ripley tweeted about the parade: "Soldiers marched wearing historic uniforms from different periods of North Korea's history, dating back from 1948 through today".
Chung met with Kim this week in Pyongyang.
That was the pattern established by Kim's father, Kim Jong-il - make a few public-relations moves and wait for the United States to pony up food, aid, and a relaxation on sanctions.
Both the Mass Games and the military parade have been criticised by human rights advocates and North Korean defectors for the pressure placed on performers and for painting a distorted picture of the country through stage-managed displays.