North Korea boasts of 'invincible power' ahead of key military anniversary

Mr Kim Jong Un is said to have propelled the country's military might with his "genius military ideology, excellent military command and unparalleled courage and guts". PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP, REUTERS) - North Korea's state media boasted on Sunday (April 24) that its armed forces had "gained invincible power" under leader Kim Jong Un as it prepares for a major army holiday that analysts say could be marked with a military parade or major weapons test.

North Korea on Monday celebrates the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army and the nuclear-armed country has staged military parades in the past to mark key holidays.

Pyongyang has carried out more than a dozen weapons tests this year, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range for the first time since 2017.

A report by the North's official Korean Central News Agency listed the history of the country's military achievements, from its battles against the United States in the 1950-1953 Korean War to smaller conflicts.

The report added that Mr Kim had further propelled the country's military might with his "genius military ideology, excellent military command and unparalleled courage and guts".

"Our revolutionary armed forces have gained invincible power that the world cannot ignore," it said, in an apparent reference to the North's nuclear arsenal.

North Korea had been widely expected to showcase its military strength to mark the 110th anniversary of the birth of its founding leader and Mr Kim's grandfather, Kim Il Sung, on April 15 but instead, the day was celebrated with a civilian parade.

South Korea has detected signs of North Korea preparing to hold a massive military parade, Yonhap news agency reported, citing unnamed government sources.  

The parade could include around 20,000 troops and showcase the North's latest major weapons, including its Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile, a hypersonic missile, and missiles launched from submarines, the sources told Yonhap.

For weeks, commercial satellite imagery has shown thousands of North Korean troops practising marching in formation at a parade training ground in Pyongyang, according to 38 North, a US-based programme, and NK News, a Seoul-based website that tracks the North.

"Typically, troops depart the training ground as soon as the parade is complete, so their presence further indicates an upcoming event," Mr Martyn Williams, a fellow with the Stimson Centre, wrote on the 38 North website.

US and South Korean officials and analysts have also warned that Pyongyang could resume nuclear weapons testing for the first time since 2017, citing renewed activity at its key testing site.

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