North Korea celebrated its 70th anniversary as country Sunday with a large military parade that notably did not include any intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Crowds gathered in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square to participate in the festivities which included North Korea’s distinctive goose-stepping military march, dances, balloons, flags and some of the country’s military tanks.
Tens of thousands of civilians attended with bouquets of bright plastic flowers and flags in hand. The Associated Press reports the crowd used the bouquets to spell out different words and slogans.
Historically, North Korea has used its military parades as a way to highlight and show off its intercontinental ballistic missiles, but as NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly reports, that was not the case this year. Instead, the parade focused more on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s recent economic goals, according to The New York Times.
This year’s celebration also marked the return of the country’s mass games in which thousands of people perform together synchronously. Many foreign outlets and journalists were invited to cover this year’s program, “Glorious Country.” In preparation for the event, performers can spend months or even years in training, according to The Associated Press.
It is literally the embodiment of socialist ideals — North Korea’s most ubiquitous slogan, seen in posters and beaming from neon signs from atop tall buildings, is “Single-minded Unity.” Pyongyang sees the performances, last held in 2013, as one of its most highly effective forms of propaganda, highlighting its social and political agenda both at home, where it will be televised repeatedly for months to come, and abroad.