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An Analysis of a Military Parade in Celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army in North Korea

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Author Hong, Min
Publish Date / Page 2022-05-02 / 15 p.
Series No. CO 22-11(E)
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A military parade marking the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army in North Korea was unprecedented in terms of its size with a focus on sending military messages toward the outside world. At this military parade, North Korea appeared to create symbolic effects about the historical continuity that links the tradition of armed struggle against the Japanese imperialist army and the strengthening of modern defense power. This parade seemed to mark a finale to a series of events held in April by mobilizing weapons on a scale never seen before and thus boasting its defense power, which is viewed as a significant achievement of Chairman Kim Jong-un. The essence of Chairman Kim's speech is that North Korea will pursue the sophistication of nuclear weapons at a maximum speed. Instead of sending a direct message toward South Korea and the US, North Korea pinpointed uncertainty in the international situation as a reason for advancing their nuclear weapons. That was an intentional change made at the security level transformed from an approach of deploying a circumstantial reason by taking an issue with the US. What deserves the attention is that North Korea vowed to 'implement the second mission' when 'national fundamental interests are in jeopardy.' It hints that North Korea could preemptively use nuclear weapons if it judges that the 'fundamental interests' are violated. It could be interpreted as an intention to set its doctrine in an aggressive tone while countering the following issues: the US's nuclear policy, the possibility of a preemptive strike by the US, the strengthening of the US-ROK extended deterrence and South Korea's reinforced military force. The DPRK seemly intends to supplement its deterrent capability against the US with rhetorical tools by stating as if the barrier to the use of nuclear weapons is lowered.