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Dictator Kim Jong-un was the guest of honour for a military parade as his North Korean soldiers sported bizarre hazmat suits.
The quickly-organised parade, which coincides with the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the country being officially formed in 1948, reportedly included a range of military assets according to sources.
Kim was in attendance along with his top official Jo Yong-won, but it is unclear why so many people were wearing what are supposedly domestically produced hazmat suits, NK News reports.
State media showed the despot dressed in a beige suit waving to troops and spectators from a balcony over Kim Il-sung Square.
North Korean sources said jets could be heard flying over the capital Pyongyang on Wednesday night while roads were reportedly closed in the evening.
It is thought that the preparations for this parade have been quicker than any others in recent years with civilians and troops spending less time training.
As well as the soldiers in hazmat suits the parade featured troops on horseback, dog-handling teams and some military equipment.
The last military parade held by North Korea was in January this year, which included a submarine-launched ballistic described as the "world's most powerful weapon".
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It came just days after Joe Biden was inaugurated as US president and relations have been frosty since the latter entered the White House.
In a parade in October last year Kim Jong-un took the opportunity to reveal previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missiles, including the longest-range missile ever tested by North Korea, in a pre-dawn event.
Experts say Kim Jong-un, who has set tongues wagging over his slimmer figure in recent months, is facing his toughest moment in power.
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North Korea is still in a strict border lockdown to battle coronavirus, with the hermit state one of only two non-island countries – Turkmenistan being the other – who claim they have not had a single Covid-19 case.
This has contributed to the extreme famine gripping the nation.
Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea, said: "We shouldn't over-interpret foreign police or negotiating signals from a parade that's primarily aimed at domestic political audiences.
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"North Korean society is under tremendous stress because of decisions made by the Kim regime.
"So the parade is intended to show strength and serve as a quarantine morale booster."
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- North Korea Dprk
- Kim Jong Un
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