North Korea Holds Military Parade After Nuclear Threat, 'Invincible' Boast

North Korea held a sizeable military parade Monday night local time after much international speculation, celebrating a key military anniversary amid recent boasts about the country's "invincible" might.

Observers of North Korea reported that the parade began in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square at around 10 p.m. KST, according to NK News, which was approximately 9 a.m. EST. At least 12 "illuminated objects" were spotted flying over the capital city ahead of the festivities. Previously, it had been speculated that the parade might occur overnight on Sunday, but this did not end up happening.

South Korean officials reported Sunday that its northern neighbor was planning to hold a late-night parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army (KPRA), according to the Yonhap News Agency. The North Korean government claims that Kim Il Sung, grandfather of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and the first leader of the country, founded the guerrilla army in 1932 to combat Japanese forces.

The parade was estimated to involve around 20,000 troops and feature displays of the Hermit Kingdom's latest strategic weapons. Yonhap News Agency claimed that during rehearsals, "over 250 pieces of military equipment" were featured, "including a hypersonic Hwasong-8 missile, a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

north korea military parade
Sources in South Korea predicted on Sunday that North Korea was planning a military parade for just after midnight local time. Above, a previous military parade in Pyongyang in September 2018. Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

Intelligence sources also noted to Yonhap that two pontoon bridges had been set up over the Taedong River leading into Kim Il Sung Square, potentially to allow the parade to enter the area from the direction of the Tower of the Juche Idea. Prior to Sunday, the North had held nine such parades under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, who succeeded his late father, Kim Jong Il, in 2011.

Earlier Sunday, North Korean state media released a statement boasting about the nation's might ahead of the important military anniversary, Reuters reported. The statement claimed that the nation had amassed "invincible power that the world cannot ignore and no one can touch," which is believed to be a reference to its cache of nuclear weapons. Amid its numerous ballistic missile tests in the last year, international intelligence outfits believe that North Korea might soon resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017.

Later in the statement, the North Korean government also insisted that the nation could "cope with any modern warfare" from rival nations and praised Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un for his supposed "genius military ideology and outstanding military command and unparalleled courage and guts."

Earlier this month, North Korea warned South Korea it would respond with nuclear weapons in the event of an attack. That followed remarks by the South Korean defense minister—whom the North described as a "scum-like guy"—about the possibility of preemptive strikes on its neighbor.

"South Korea may face a serious threat owing to the reckless remarks made by its defense minister...South Korea should discipline itself if it wants to stave off disaster," said Kim Yo Jong, sister to Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

NK News noted that in the past few weeks, military troops have been spotted on satellite images practicing formations in an area near Pyongyang. The country has not typically held parades to celebrate the founding of the KPRA, reserving such celebrations for the birthday of Kim Il Sung (April 15), the founding of the ruling Workers' Party (October 10), and the country's founding (September 9), according to Yonhap.