SEOUL, North Korea’s People’s Army held an “Oh Jung-heup 7th Regiment” military rally for the first time in 10 years. Kim Jong Un attended.
Kim, however, appeared to be absent from the most recent launches of mid-range ballistic missiles, one of which traveled for 620 miles and landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Wednesday.
North Korea typically issues a media statement a day after a successful missile launch, but no Pyongyang news service carried the announcement by late Thursday, Seoul time.
That may indicate Kim was not present at the most recent ballistic missile launch, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
A unification ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that according to data, Kim is not always present at missile tests.
In 2014, for example, Kim was in attendance at fewer than half of missile firings, the official said.
On Thursday North Korea state media instead placed the spotlight on Kim’s attendance at the military gathering, which was dubbed the “enthusiastic party movement rally” by the Rodong Sinmun and KCNA.
Kim told attendees including powerful politician Hwang Pyong So the rally was being held to “defend the revolution” and called it the “highest form of popular movements.”
The Oh Jung-heup 7th Regiment military rally was first held in 1996 and is named after an anti-Japanese guerrilla fighter and commander who fought with North Korea founder Kim Il Sung.