NORTH Korea staged a huge military parade yesterday to mark its 70th anniversary as a nation.

But the country held back most of its missiles and devoted nearly half of the parade to civilian efforts to build the domestic economy, honouring nurses, construction workers, students and others.

Leader Kim Jong Un attended the parade but did not address the crowd, which included the head of the Chinese parliament and delegations from countries that have friendly ties with the North.

Senior statesman Kim Yong Nam, the head of North Korea’s parliament, set the relatively softer tone for the event with a speech emphasising the economic goals of the regime, not its nuclear might.

This year’s celebrations also mark the revival of North Korea’s iconic mass games after a five-year hiatus.

The mass games involve tens of thousands of people holding up placards or dancing in precise unison and are intended to be a display of national unity.

This year’s spectacle – tickets start at just over 100 dollars (£77) and go up to more than 800 dollars (£620) per seat – also has a strong economic theme.

The “new line” of putting economic development first has been Kim’s top priority this year.

He claims to have perfected his nuclear arsenal enough to deter US aggression and devote his resources to raising the nation’s standard of living.