While North Korea rolled out some of its latest tanks and marched its best-trained goose-stepping units for the parade at Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square, it held back its most advanced missiles and devoted almost half of the event to civilian efforts to build the domestic economy. Kim was seen laughing and holding hands with Li as he oversaw the celebrations.
Also on Sunday, as part of the national day celebrations, Pyongyang resurrected its famed Mass Games performance.
It would be a three-stage rocket which would the largest of its kind ever launched by North Korea. It blends art with mass engagement and propaganda messaging.
There was no sign of the Hwasong-14 and -15 missiles that can reach the mainland US and changed the strategic balance when they were first tested past year. The reason for the thespian's presence is unknown; he reportedly refused to speak to journalists.
The show did not specifically mention Kim's summits with U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, but a huge, moveable display formed by thousands of school children spelled out slogans praising "multilateral foreign relations" in English and Chinese.
"Thank you To Chairman Kim", Trump said in a tweet. There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other!
Since I and the ABC News crew have been here, we have been with a government guide at all times, and can only go where they choose to take us. Washington wants Kim to commit to denuclearisation first, but Pyongyang wants its security guaranteed and a peace agreement formally ending the Korean War.
The parade allowed Kim to highlight themes of military accomplishment, national development, and global engagement at a time when doubts are arising over his commitment to abandoning nuclear weapons.
Seoul is now looking to give second wind to diplomatic momentum that culminated in the historic summit between Kim Jong-un and Trump on June 12 in Singapore. "We will get it done together!" Moon is then expected to meet Trump at the UN General Assembly later this month for in-depth discussions on the direction of the denuclearization and peninsula peace-building process.
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Speculation that Xi might reciprocate for the anniversary did not come to pass - Hu Jintao was the last Chinese president to visit in 2005 - but O'Carroll said it appeared that Pyongyang was looking to promote its friendship with Beijing.
In April, Kim declared that the North's nuclear programme had been successfully completed and "socialist economic construction" was the new strategic priority.
On the day, however, neither transpired.
"The Chinese Party and government took seriously (our) friendly, cooperative relationship with North Korea".
The parade also provided Kim an opportunity to show off restored ties with his most important ally, China.
Such set-piece dates are a mainstay of the North's political calendar, and have for years been opportunities to demonstrate progress in its quest for a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States. His speech focused largely on the regime's achievement of military power and its focus on economic development, according to news reports.
The strong emphasis on the economy underscores the strategy Kim has pursued since January of putting economic development front and center.
The message from the group, that directs its propaganda mainly at the South, included a condemnation of the United States for the "most barbaric massacre" during the 1950-53 Korean War. His core policy line was "Songeun", or military first.
Also, the chairs and benches where Kim Jong Un had sat are now encased in glass.