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PHOTOS: North Korea Celebrates 70 Years With Military Parade And Mass Games

North Korean military goose-step on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a mass military parade to mark its 70th anniversary as a nation.
North Korean military goose-step on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a mass military parade to mark its 70th anniversary as a nation.

North Korea celebrated its 70 th 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.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

North Korean airplanes fly over Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a mass military parade to mark its 70th anniversary as a nation.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean airplanes fly over Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a mass military parade to mark its 70th anniversary as a nation.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, raises hands with China's third highest ranking official Li Zhanshu during a parade for the 70th anniversary of North Korea's founding day in Pyongyang.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, raises hands with China's third highest ranking official Li Zhanshu during a parade for the 70th anniversary of North Korea's founding day in Pyongyang.

Juche Tower stands tall over Pyongyang.
/ David Guttenefelder for NPR
Juche Tower stands tall over Pyongyang.

North Korean civilians wave pink and red artificial flowers and chant "Kim Jong Un" on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a mass military parade to mark its 70th anniversary as a nation.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean civilians wave pink and red artificial flowers and chant "Kim Jong Un" on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a mass military parade to mark its 70th anniversary as a nation.

North Korean military goose-step past the grandstand on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a mass military parade to mark its 70th anniversary as a nation.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean military goose-step past the grandstand on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a mass military parade to mark its 70th anniversary as a nation.

North Korean military goose-step on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean military goose-step on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.

North Korean media cover a mass military parade on Kim Il Sung Square.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean media cover a mass military parade on Kim Il Sung Square.

North Korean bicycle commuters in Pyongyang.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean bicycle commuters in Pyongyang.

North Korean women work in a silk factory in the capital Pyongyang.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean women work in a silk factory in the capital Pyongyang.

North Koreans gather in the streets in Pyongyang at the end of a mass military parade on Kim Il Sung Square.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Koreans gather in the streets in Pyongyang at the end of a mass military parade on Kim Il Sung Square.

North Koreans wave fliers, balloons and flags during a mass military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the nation.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Koreans wave fliers, balloons and flags during a mass military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the nation.

A teacher dances and sings with children outside a school at a communal farm on the outskirts of Pyongyang, North Korea.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
A teacher dances and sings with children outside a school at a communal farm on the outskirts of Pyongyang, North Korea.

North Korean citizens use colored cards to create a giant mosaic depicting the city of Pyongyang.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean citizens use colored cards to create a giant mosaic depicting the city of Pyongyang.

North Korean women gather around a globe with a unified Korean Peninsula depicted on the map on the field of the May Day Stadium.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean women gather around a globe with a unified Korean Peninsula depicted on the map on the field of the May Day Stadium.

North Korean do cartwheels on the field of the May Day Stadium.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean do cartwheels on the field of the May Day Stadium.

A historic film is broadcast on a large screen behind a North Korean orchestra and vocalist.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
A historic film is broadcast on a large screen behind a North Korean orchestra and vocalist.

North Korean military members watch a concert performance in Pyongyang.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean military members watch a concert performance in Pyongyang.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un waves to a cheering crowd at the debut of a new mass games event to mark the 70th anniversary for the founding of the nation in the city of Pyongyang.
/ David Guttenfelder for NPR
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un waves to a cheering crowd at the debut of a new mass games event to mark the 70th anniversary for the founding of the nation in the city of Pyongyang.