By: ASHLEY HOPKINS
On October 10, 2020, Kim Jong Un held a large military parade at Kim II Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea to mark the ruling party’s 75th anniversary. The parade showcased thousands of North Korean soldiers, rocket launchers, tanks, armored vehicles, and a good amount of ballistic missiles. Among these ballistic missiles was North Korea’s new and very possibly largest ICBM or intercontinental ballistic missile. It was mounted on an 11-axle launch vehicle system and can be seen in the photo above. The possible meanings of this show-off have worried some critics.
According to US News, Melissa Hanham, deputy director of the Austria-based Open Nuclear Network said, “North Korea had already demonstrated a potential ability to reach deep into the U.S. mainland with a flight test of its Hwasong-15 ICBM in 2017, and developing a larger missile possibly means the country is trying to arm its long-range weapons with more warheads.” This train of thought sparks a lot of worry about North Korea’s intentions as many people believed that a huge global conflict wasn’t far around the corner after the display in 2017.
Hanham also said, “I also think that this is a message to the United States — he has already declared he no longer holds himself to the moratorium and he has something new as well he may wish to test.” Before the display, the United States was putting heavy limitations on North Korea’s nuclear program and thus further escalated tensions.
However, Kim Jong Un also made a peaceful gesture. Not to the United States of course, but to South Korea. According to US News, “He also extended an olive branch to rival South Korea, expressing hope that the countries can repair ties once the threat of the pandemic is over. The North had suspended virtually all cooperation with the South during a freeze in larger talks with the United States.”
All in all, the military display was most likely Kim Jong Un trying to give a message to the United States that they aren’t going to limit the cap of North Korea’s military force. The chance of tensions increasing as they did in 2017 is most likely extremely low due to the pandemic although North Korea states that it “isn’t in their country.” How this message will continue to evolve can only be truly known by waiting and seeing. Hopefully, the world doesn’t have to experience another global crisis.