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N. Korea's Kim, together with daughter, praises army before key anniv.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, front right, visits the quarters of general officers of the Korean People's Army with a girl thought to be his daughter, front left, on Feb. 7, 2023. (KCNA/Kyodo)

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un praised the nation's army on the eve of the 75th anniversary of its founding Wednesday, calling the troops "the strongest army in the world," state-run media reported.

    But there was no mention of the country's nuclear program or the United States in his speech delivered at a banquet, also attended by his daughter, commemorating the anniversary at the quarters of general officers of the Korean People's Army on Tuesday.

    North Korea may have staged a military parade in the early hours of Wednesday, with signs of it being reported by an online media outlet.

    The leader attended the banquet together with his "respected daughter" thought to be his second child Kim Ju Ae, aged around 10, and his wife Ri Sol Ju, according to pictures released by the official Korean Central News Agency.

    It is unusual for the honorific word "respected" to be used for anyone other than the leader.

    In November last year, state-run media described the girl as "most beloved" and "precious," fueling speculation that she could be a potential successor to her father.

    North Korea first reported on the girl on Nov. 19 last year. She took part in a photo session with those involved in the Nov. 18 test-firing of a new "Hwasong-17" intercontinental ballistic missile.

    The North Korean leader is believed to have three children -- a son who was born in 2010, Kim Ju Ae born in 2013 and a third born in 2017 -- according to South Korean media.

    In Tuesday's speech, Kim declared his country has "finally cultivated the great and absolute strength, getting over untold pain and suffering for the sake of eternal peace," according to KCNA.

    "Let us all redouble efforts and work harder to strengthen and develop our army and to achieve the prosperity and development of our socialist country," he added.

    NK News, a website that provides news and analysis on North Korea, said illuminated jets and propeller planes flew low over Pyongyang around 1 a.m. Wednesday and music could be heard from the capital's Kim Il Sung Square from about 12:30 a.m., citing videos taken in the capital.

    The flyovers suggest North Korea has begun a military parade but it is still possible they were part of additional training activities, it added. NK News said late last month thousands of civilians in Pyongyang had been engaged in a practice for a military parade, based on its analysis of satellite imagery.

    North Korea last staged a huge military parade in Kim Il Sung Square in April last year to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army, the predecessor of the present army.

    On that occasion, Kim vowed to bolster the country's development of nuclear weapons at a faster pace and use them if its fundamental interests are threatened.

    On Monday, North Korea discussed how to expand and intensify combat drills for the "perfecting" of its war preparedness in a meeting guided by Kim, according to KCNA.

    Kim's presence at the meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea marked his first public activity reported by the state-run media since Jan. 2.

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