North Korea held a massive military parade on Saturday, showcasing its latest intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts say may be the biggest in the world capable of striking any part of the U.S. mainland.
But upon its key political anniversary, the founding of the regime's ruling Worker's Party, leader Kim Jong-un's speech refrained from colorful, inflammatory remarks towards South Korea and the U.S., saying the North's military force wasn't directed at anyone in particular and that he hoped to "join hands with South Korea" after the pandemic.
The young dictator even shed tears as he talked about the hardships the North had endured over the months, and claimed zero cases of COVID-19.
To discuss this display of deadly weapons along with Kim Jong-un's unexpectedly unprovocative speech, we're joined by Chun In-bum, former Lieutenant General of the Republic of Korea Army who is now Vice President of the Korea Chapter of the Association of the United States Army and MIG Alley Chapter of the U.S. Air Force Association. Good morning to you.
We also connect with Jenny Town, Fellow at Stimson and the Deputy Director of Stimson's 38 North, which provides policy and technical analysis on North Korea. It's great to see you.
Let's start with the logistics of this parade, General Chun:
1) It was said that this year, the North Koreans held their parade in very early hours of the morning -- before dawn -- and foreigners were forbidden from attending. Why do you think it was so low key this year despite it being the 75th anniversary of the Worker's Party?
2) Same question to you Ms. Town. What stood out to you about this year's event?
3) General Chun: It seemed that North Korea upgraded and enlarged their ICBM, which appears to be bigger than those of the Chinese and the Russians -- and the North also showcased a new submarine-launched ballistic missile.
What did you make of these new weapons?
4) Ms. Town: Your website 38 North, published an analysis of these weapons, just a few hours after they were revealed. What did you make of the new ballistic missiles?
5) Kim Jong-un's speech this year was rather surprising, as he refrained from the colorful and offensive rhetoric the North is known to use. Let's take a listen to what he said.
"I do not want our military might to be aimed at anyone. I stress that the purpose of our war-deterrence efforts is self-defense."
General Chun: The latest ICBM is expected to be one of the largest in the world, capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads -- which analysts say could mean the North could potentially hit any part of the U.S. -- New York and Washington at the same time, even. What do you think was the intention behind Kim's words, and should we believe him?
6) Ms. Town: Is Kim Jong-un trying to keep things relatively peaceful with the U.S.? How would the outcome of the Nov. 3 Presidential Election affect the North's next move -- whether it's a step towards dialogue or a missile test?
7) Ms. Town: Kim also said he hoped the two Koreas would join hands after the COVID-19 situation is over, which is quite a change of tune considering that it was North Korea that decided to blow up the joint liason office this year, released a string of inflammatory remarks towards the South and even killed a South Korean public servant. What do you think North Korea wants now?
8) General Chun: There has been a noticeable increase of cyber attacks by North Korea on various parts of the South Korean government. What are they aiming for, and should we be more concerned about this than their weapons capability right now?
Chun In-bum, former Lieutenant General and Commander of Special Warfare Command of the Republic of Korea Army and Jenny Town, Fellow at Stimson and the Deputy Director of Stimson's 38 North.
Thank you for your insights
(Washington, D.C.) 2