North Korea showcased its latest weaponry and best goose-stepping soldiers Sunday as the reclusive nation marked its 70 anniversary with a military parade at a time when it is under worldwide pressure to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
The displays - overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, the third member of his family to rule the country - are crucial to Korea-watchers, who observe them closely for clues about its latest advances.
Almost half of the parade was dedicated to civilian efforts to boost the economy, the Associated Press reported, underscoring a major policy shift announced by the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, earlier this year to focus on economic development.
This year's celebration, however, did not feature the isolated nation's most advanced missiles.
While it remains to be seen what kind of weaponry will be rolled out at the parade, North Korea is clearly trying to switch its emphasis away from just military power to its efforts to improve the country's domestic economy.
North Korea has long used parades to display the strength of its military, having most recently held one of February of this year. Washington wants Kim to commit to denuclearisation first, but Pyongyang wants its security guaranteed and a peace agreement formally ending the Korean War.
For a long time, the U.S. and North Korea were at an apparent impasse, with the USA asking for a comprehensive list of North Korea's nuclear facilities, and Pyongyang demanding a formal end to the Korean War.
In April, leader Kim declared the North's nuclear programme a success and said the country's new strategic priority would be "socialist economic construction".
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According to North Korea's KCNA, the landing of USA forces in Incheon on September 8, 1945, was an infringement on Korean Peninsula sovereignty. "Energy of the parade was much more upbeat and lighthearted versus previous years - not so much the military portion but definitely in civilian portion". While his current focus is on global diplomacy and domestic economic development, he commands both a nuclear arsenal and an intercontinental ballistic missile force. But the only types of missiles displayed were short-range surface-to-surface missiles, a surface-to-air missile and an anti-ship cruise missile.
"It's favorable to both of them, but especially to North Korea", said Choo Jaewoo, a professor of Chinese foreign policy at Kyung Hee University.
Officials attend the ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in this undated photo released on Saturday by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Finally came the missiles, the traditional climax of the parades.
It also brought the mass games back after a five-year hiatus.
A third summit between Mr Kim and South Korean president Moon Jae-in has been confirmed for later this month. The first of the three Kims was best known, after the war, for his "juche" or self-reliance philosophy. He claims to have perfected his nuclear arsenal enough to deter USA aggression and devote his resources to raising his nation's standard of living. This year's spectacle - tickets start at just over $100 and go up to more than $800 per seat - also has a strong economic theme.
It comes at a sensitive time as the United States and South Korea try to engage the North in a process they hope will eventually lead to it giving up its nuclear arsenal.