A grinning Kim Jong-un at a military parade in Pyongyang. Photo: Reuters.

A smiling Kim Jong-un watched on as North Korea showed off "the world's most powerful weapon" at a huge parade with no social distancing. The despot regime unveiled what appeared to be a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in a provocative move. The despot was pictured at the event, thought to have been held in capital Pyongyang today. A grinning Kim, clad in a leather coat and fur hat, waved as he oversaw the parade in Kim Il Sung Square, photos released by state media showed. The parade featured rows of marching soldiers, as well as a range of military hardware including tanks and rocket launchers. At the end, a number of what analysts said appeared to be new types of short-range ballistic missile and SLBMs rolled into the square on trucks.

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"The world's most powerful weapon, submarine-launch ballistic missiles, entered the square one after another, powerfully demonstrating the might of the revolutionary armed forces," news agency KCNA reported.

Pyongyang is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes. On Wednesday, Kim Yo Jong, the leader's sister and a member of the party Central Committee, criticised South Korea's military for saying it had detected signs of a parade in Pyongyang on Sunday. The move was an expression of the South's "hostile approach" towards the North, she said in a statement.

Missiles described as the 'world's most powerful weapon' were displayed at the parade. Photo: Reuters.

Leader Kim and other North Korean officials had packed into an indoor stadium in Pyongyang on Wednesday to watch performances from military and civilian art troupes and youth groups.

The performance was the latest in a series of large gatherings this week where Kim and the other attendees did not appear to wear masks or follow other social distancing measures. North Korea has not reported any confirmed coronavirus cases, but it has imposed strict border closures, domestic travel restrictions and other measures to prevent an outbreak.

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Fireworks above Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang as North Korea celebrated. Photo: Reuters.

The parade in itself was not intended to be a provocation but was a worrying sign of Pyongyang's priorities, said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

"The economy is severely strained from pandemic border closures, policy mismanagement and international sanctions," he said.

"Despite or perhaps because of this, Kim Jong Un feels the need to devote scarce resources to another political-military display."

The huge military parade was held as a show of might in the North Korean capital. Photo: Reuters.
Troops march during a military parade in Pyongyang. Photo: Reuters.