North Korea puffs out its chest 60 years after war's end

(CBS News) PYONGYANG, North Korea - The U.S. and its allies fought on the Korean Peninsula to keep communist North Korea from conquering the south. On Saturday, the north held its own ceremony and invited western journalists to watch.

If a nation could puff out its chest, it would look like the display North Korea put on.

The country rolled its tanks, artillery and missiles through central Pyongyang, reminiscent of Cold War-era Soviet parades.

Former CIA analyst Bob Carlin has made nearly 30 trips to North Korea.

"I think it's intended to be a sober message that they have the capacity to inflict a lot of damage if we're not very careful," Carlin said.

The Korean War is called the "Fatherland Liberation War" here, and while much of the world considers that it ended in a stalemate, the North Koreans claimed victory. They see it as successfully fighting back U.S. imperialists. In some way, that's a battle they continue to fight today.

Obama commemorating Korean War: "That war was no tie"

Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un links his country's self-sufficiency with the continued development of its nuclear program. On Saturday, troops cocked their heads toward him as they passed by his reviewing stand.

"Kim Jong Un has moved quickly to try to establish himself as a leader who is concerned about the well-being of his people, and so he has shown up at a lot of projects that make people's lives a little bit better," Carlin said.

A sea of colored pom-poms raised overhead filled Kim Il Sung Square and magnified the pageantry.

Even standing in the middle of it, it's hard to give a sense for just the sheer size, the scale of the celebration. People waving pom-poms were yelling, "Long live Kim Jong Un!"

It was hot and humid Saturday. Most of them were wearing suits and ties and long dresses. It's difficult to describe the enthusiasm.

And it can be difficult to explain it, too, as much of this country is mired in problems. The food shortages and economic worries here are hardly paraded out for all to see.

North Korea-watchers tell us that Kim Jong Un has been focusing more of his attention on matters of the economy. He's been seen at factories, light industry and hospitals trying to focus his country's attention on economic development.

  • Seth Doane

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