North Korea’s 70th Anniversary Parade Was Boring

Sunday is running away faster than I thought it would, so I’m going to contract out the reporting to Josh Smith of Reuters, who was there. The photo is of spectators at the parade, from that article. There are more in the article.

Donald Trump recently received a letter from Kim Jong Un, but we don’t know what was in it yet. There were no big missiles in the parade, and the Orange Emperor thought that indicated that North Korea is going to denuclearize.

So far, to demonstrate good will, North Korea has dynamited the entrances to the tunnels at its nuclear test site, which can easily be reopened; partially disassembled a missile stand; and refrained from showing his biggest missiles in the parade, while presumably continuing to manufacture them and their nuclear payloads.

That word, denuclearize, shows up again. Trump, as far as we can tell, thinks it means North Korea’s giving up its nuclear weapons program. Kim has made clear that he sees it as a long-term goal, when the rest of the world denuclearizes.

And, in case you were sleeping too well, here’s another anecdote from Bob Woodward’s book. Trump wanted to tweet that he was evacuating dependents of military personnel in South Korea. He was talked out of it. That evacuation would be one of the sure indicators of an attack on North Korea, and Kim would have taken it that way.


24 replies
  1. 1
    Luthe says:

    I would say “The stupid, it burns,” but things have been i flames for almost three years now…

  2. 2
    Mai Naem mobile says:

    Trumpov is just such a fucking moron he makes my head hurt. There is no cunning here. He is just plain dumb. I would honestly be embarrased to be standing behind him at one of his Nazi rallies.

  3. 3
    Mike J says:

    I like the way ArmsControlWonk described it. They want the Israel option. No tests, no public displays, and everybody publicly acts like they don’t have a nuke.

  4. 4
    hitchhiker says:

    (slightly OT) I’m reading a novel called Pachinko, which is about a group of Korean people living through the occupation of their country by Japan, and later the fall of Japan to the Allies, and then the partition of their country.

    Can’t recommend it enough for the writing and thoughtfulness, but I have no way to evaluate the details in terms of historical accuracy. Anybody else read this?

  5. 5

    @Mike J: And that’s what Trump is giving them. It’s not the worst outcome, by far, but we need to be working with our allies South Korea and Japan to manage the threat.

    What would be better would be talks with North Korea to limit their nuclear production somehow, but that’s not gonna come with North Korea’s great Good Friend.

  6. 6

    Here are selections from a long and very good thread on the parade by Joshua Pollack.

    Paying attention to official statements from North Korea will tell you what they are thinking. They are quite open and specific about many things. And their statements have been borne out, again and again.

  7. 7
    J R in WV says:

    So lucky one of the coup plotters managed to keep that from happening, evacuating civilians would be so huge a threat it could have been a catastrophe.

  8. 8
    debbie says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Any idea how long this parade has been in the planning? I’m wondering if the lack of hardware, awesomeness, etc. indicates it was a hastily assembled event, planned only after Pompeo’s canceled visit.

  9. 9
    Steeplejack says:


    Seventieth anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, so you gotta think it has been in the works for a while. Otherwise it would be like us just “throwing something together” for a big multiple of the Fourth of July.

  10. 10
    Jeffro says:

    What’s the name of that recent book again? Oh yeah…”the 2020 report of the North Korean nuclear attacks on the United States”…

    It will be unthinkable until it happens.

    But hey, tax cuts and judges, amirite my “conservative” friends?

  11. 11
    Steeplejack says:


    In the Joshua Pollack Twitter thread:

    The decision to highlight the 70th anniversary of the state wasn't sudden; see KJU's 2018 New Year Address:

    — Joshua H. Pollack (@Joshua_Pollack) September 9, 2018

  12. 12
    RSA says:

    Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, is filled with alarming details about chaos in Trump’s White House, but perhaps no incident illustrates the president’s recklessness better than the time he drafted a tweet saying, “We are going to pull out dependents from South Korea…Family members of the 28,000 people there.”

    The president drafted the message at the height of his standoff with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom he had derided and provoked as “Little Rocket Man.” It immediately raised alarms in the Pentagon, and the administration got a back-channel message from North Korea that it would regard the tweet as a sign that an attack was looming.

    Hmm. I don’t doubt the President’s recklessness, but this sounds pretty weird. Trump drafts a tweet, which is reviewed by the Pentagon and discussed in North Korea (with whom?) and decides not to send it out… I’d thought Trump just types text into the little box and presses Enter.

  13. 13
    Mike in NC says:

    Dear Leader and Great Leader have formed an unshakeable personal bond based on their mutual respect and affection.

    Just kidding!

  14. 14

    @debbie: Not hastily assembled at all, intended for the seventieth anniversary of the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea. They have been rehearsing for weeks. We can see them in satellite photos.

    Everything North Korea does that it expects to get out to the world is carefully planned, vetted, and executed.

  15. 15
    AThornton says:

    Vague recollections of position papers floating around Neo-Con/RWNJ circles back in the oughties proposing pressure on the PRC – Trump’s Trade War? – who would then bring North Korea to heel re: nukes.


    Trump’s trade war changes China’s calculus on North Korea

    This is the sort of thing Bolton would think was immensely clever.

  16. 16

    @RSA: We know more about the North Korean parade rehearsal than we know about how Trump’s tweets are composed and produced.

    But what is known is that he often dictates his tweets to an aide who types them in. Apparently some he does himself while lying in bed watching Fox News during his “executive time.”

    My surmise is that this one was composed with aides present, who, surprisingly, were not dim enough not to know what evacuating Americans from South Korea would mean. Or they at least recognized that maybe the tweet should be passed by the Pentagon.

    I am sympathetic, though, with the viewpoint that we can’t believe what anyone in the administration says. But Woodward is a careful reporter, so attention should be paid.

  17. 17
    RSA says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thanks for the explanation! It makes sense now. I’d forgotten about dictated tweets.

  18. 18

    @RSA: Apparently he also brought it up with Lindsay Graham. I will post the link when I find it.

  19. 19
    debbie says:


    Thanks. Guess he’s really serious about coming to an agreement with Trump.

  20. 20
    Steeplejack says:


    I doubt it. I think Kim, like a lot of other schemers and malefactors, has realized that if he says nice things publically and doesn’t draw too much attention he can proceed with his plans in secret and rely on Trump to keep tripping over himself.

  21. 21
    Frankensteinbeck says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    My takeaway is that Trump wanted to bluster about how dangerous North Korea is, was informed there might be actual consequences, and backed down like the chickenshit he is. Then, like the whiny toddler he is, he went and asked someone else for permission. Same answer, same chickenshit back down.

  22. 22

    This is how we saw the practice sessions.

  23. 23

    Here’s a fuller version of the Trump tweet that wasn’t sent.

    The president later made that “Little Rocket Man” on Twitter, which he told Rob Porter “may be my best ever.” When Porter asked if it might provoke Kim, according to Woodward, the president replied, “It’s leader versus leader, man versus man, me versus Kim.”

    The most dangerous moment of the standoff, Woodward says, came when the president went to work on another tweet: “He drafts a tweet saying ‘We are going to pull out dependents from South Korea … Family members of the 28,000 people there.'”

    That tweet was never sent, because of a back channel message from North Korea that it would regard a pullout of dependents as a sign the U.S. was preparing to attack. “At that moment there was a sense of profound alarm in the Pentagon leadership that, ‘My God, one tweet and we have reliable information that the North Koreans are going to read this as an attack is imminent,'” Woodward said.

    This is garbled. No back channel message from North Korea was necessary. Anyone who has spent a half-hour studying the Korean situation knows that pulling out dependents from South Korea signals an attack. Think about it – why else would you do that other than preparing for war.

    Even if it’s totally apocryphal, the fact that it’s believable is a deep condemnation of Trump’s actions, which can only be read as deeply ignorant.

  24. 24
    PhoenixRising says:


    Kim…has realized that if he says nice things publically and doesn’t draw too much attention he can proceed with his plans in secret and rely on Trump to keep tripping over himself.

    but he’s also on my short list for who wrote the op-ed. Keep the grinning orange clown thinking you’re his helper, Do what you want, laugh up your sleeve.

Comments are closed.