February 21, 2024

Why North Korea played favorites with Russia over China at military parade

While rank is likely a factor, experts suggest DPRK also sought to show it is not only reliant on Beijing

Two special guests joined Kim Jong Un on the viewing stand for North Korea’s military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War on Thursday — Russian defense chief Sergei Shoigu and Chinese politburo member Li Hongzhong, the leaders of the first foreign delegations to enter the country in years. 

But while China is the DPRK’s top trade partner, and while it sent an estimated 3 million troops to fight in the Korean War, it was Russia’s highest military official — not Li — that received the lion’s share of attention in North Korean state media.