NORTH Korea unleashed a huge display of military might at a 65th anniversary parade, overseen by heir-apparent Kim Jong-un.
As the regime celebrated its longevity and plans for leadership succession, news emerged of the death of one of the Stalinist state's most senior defectors, Hwang Jang-yop, the target of assassination attempts by North Korea.
South Korean police said the 87-year-old's death was not suspicious, but a report in the Korea Herald said intelligence authorities in Seoul were investigating the possibility of assassination.
At the parade in Pyongyang's enormous Kim Il-sung Square, thousands of soldiers marched in square formations before the regime's elite, and foreign diplomats and officials from China, to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Korean Workers' Party.
Missile trucks, tanks, artillery pieces and armoured personal carriers also rumbled through the square during the parade, which was televised live by North Korea's state-run media. Unusually, selected international television networks were invited to broadcast the parade in a sign of the regime's desire to emphasise its military strength and the successful implementation of its leadership succession.
The telecast included close-up shots of the dictator, Kim Jong-il, and his son on the balcony overseeing the parade. Kim Jong-il, who is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008, appeared more robust, although he was limping slightly.
Dressed in his standard khaki Mao suit, the dictator occasionally clapped and raised his right hand to salute the thousands of goose-stepping troops. His portly son, clad in a dark Mao suit, also clapped and saluted.
You just want to pinch those fat little cheeks!