As North Korea marked its 75th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday, its leader Kim Jong Un addressed the audience at a military parade that he wanted to thank the people of his country for their good health and for not "one of them having fallen victim" to the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world.
Kim, dressed in a grey suit and tie, appeared from a building as the clock struck midnight.
The North Korean supremo got teary-eyed during his speech, which even left the army personnel weeping.
“I am sorry”, said Kim, as he apologised to his people for their suffering from multiple challenges, including recent typhoons and flooding and the impact from its anti-pandemic campaign.
“Our people have placed trust, as high as sky and as deep as sea, on me, but I have failed to always live up to it satisfactorily,” said Kim as he appeared to choke up.
However, the speech aired by Reuters, automatically generated some bizarre subtitles which included words like bogyman, Ozbek mom, Funabashi, and Jim Martin.
His speech was punctuated by thousands of goose-stepping troops, tanks, armoured vehicles, rocket launchers and a broad range of ballistic missiles rolled out in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square.
In his address broadcast by North Korean television, Kim said: "I thank them for their good health without any one of them having fallen victim to the malignant virus. The fact that we have defended all our people from the harmful epidemic disease sweeping the whole world can be said to be a natural duty and success of our Party. However, I am moved by this success, and as I see their healthy appearance, I can find no word other than thanks." He further said that it was "a great victory achieved by the people of North Korea themselves," Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
"For our Party, the life of every one of our people is more precious than anything else, and their good health means the very existence of our Party, state and everything on this land," he added.
It's unusual for the North to hold a military parade during the dark pre-dawn hours, although such conditions may provide benefits in protecting sensitive information about crucial weapons that were rolled out or creating spectacles through the use of lights.
This year's anniversary comes amid deadlocked nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration and deepening economic woes that analysts say are shaping up as one of the biggest tests of Kim's leadership since he took power in 2011.
But many analysts believe North Korea will avoid serious negotiations or provocations before the US presidential election, as a change in US administrations could force the country to recalibrate its approach toward Washington and Seoul.
With inputs from Agencies