Hazmat suits and masks: North Korea’s military parade pays tribute to COVID-19 effort

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North Korea’s state-run television KRT on Thursday (September 9) released a video of North Koreans celebrating the 73rd anniversary of its foundation with a night time military parade in the capital, with personnel in orange hazmat suits marching but no ballistic missiles.

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Kim Jong Un, the leader of the reclusive state, attended the event as paramilitary and public security forces of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards, the country’s largest civilian defense force, began marching in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung square at midnight Wednesday (September 8), KRT said.

In the footage, people in orange hazmat suits with medical-grade masks were seen in an apparent symbol of anti-coronavirus efforts, and troops holding rifles marching together. Some conventional weapons were also on display, including multiple rocket launchers and tractors carrying anti-tank missiles.

But no ballistic missiles were seen or mentioned in the reports, and Kim did not deliver any speech, unlike last October when he boasted of the country’s nuclear capabilities and showcased previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missiles during a pre-dawn military parade.

It was the first time since 2013 that North Korea staged a parade with the 5.7 million strong Worker-Peasant Red Guards, launched as reserve forces after the exit of Chinese forces who fought for the North in the 1950-53 Korean War.

KRT also aired footage of Kim Jong Un holding a banquet on Wednesday for North Korean “labor innovators and merited persons” who have contributed to the country, before attending the military parade.

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