North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a speech to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) on Tuesday, according to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), one of the North’s state-controlled media.
“The highest honor of the 75-year-long history of our People’s Army lies in the great succession which continues staunchly and vigorously despite the passage of time and the storms of history,” Kim said.
A day after he presided over a meeting of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) on military affairs, Kim visited the lodging quarters of KPA officers with his “respected” daughter to celebrate the event. The same daughter was previously called “the most beloved” child of Kim when she appeared in a photo session with scientists and technicians who contributed to the development of the North’s Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in November. Now, as she appeared again with her father at a venue celebrating the anniversary of the KPA’s founding, it may contribute to the speculation that she has been tapped as the successor of Kim.
Looking back at the history of the North Korean army’s fight against national enemies, Kim again reiterated his principles of “strength to strength” and “self-reliance” to urge his military to unconditionally follow his will.
“A history of righteous strength was made on this land, proving through a hard-won victory the truth that dignity and honor are only given to the strong and the validity of the revolutionary cause is verified only through victory, and independence and self-sufficiency are only guaranteed by self-reliance in defense,” Kim said.
Since he ascended the throne after his father Kim Jong Il died in December 2011, Kim Jong Un has been dedicated to boosting his military capabilities to stabilize his power and confront South Korea and the United States in the region. During his tenure so far, North Korea has carried out four nuclear tests and significantly advanced ballistic missile programs, such as ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). North Korea is believed to have dozens of nuclear warheads already and is expected to have hundreds more in the coming years.
At the Eighth Congress of the WPK held in January 2021, North Korea also pledged to develop more powerful and advanced missile programs such as super-large hydrogen bombs, hypersonic gliding flight warheads, multi-warhead missiles, and new types of ballistic missiles. According to the North’s state media reports, it will finish preparations for launching its first military reconnaissance satellite by April – which would trigger more active corresponding measures from the United States and South Korea.
Besides Kim’s speech, satellite imagery suggested that North Korea was also preparing to hold a military parade for the 75th anniversary of the founding of the KPA. Early indications were that the parade started around 9 p.m. in the evening of February 8.