Kim Jong-un wept during a huge military parade in North Korea as he issued a rare apology for his failures during the coronavirus outbreak.
The leader removed his glasses and wiped away his tears as he spoke at the parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the country's ruling Workers' party.
He said, according to a translation in The Korea Times: 'Our people have placed trust, as high as the sky and as deep as the sea, in me, but I have failed to always live up to it satisfactorily. I am really sorry for that.'
He continued: 'Although I am entrusted with the important responsibility to lead this country upholding the cause of the great Comrades Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il thanks to the trust of all the people, my efforts and sincerity have not been sufficient enough to rid our people of the difficulties in their lives.'
Analysts said the speech was a display of the mounting pressure on his regime as Kim discussed the three hardships afflicting his people, Covid-19, international sanctions and natural disasters.
Hong Min, director of the North Korea division at the Korean Institute for National Unification, told the Korea Times: 'Underneath his message, one can sense that Kim is feeling a lot of pressure on his leadership.
'During the speech, he used terms like "grave challenges", "countless ordeals" and "disasters unprecedented in history".
'This shows that he is having a really hard time governing, and he feels pressured from worries that his people might be upset or swayed by this kind of difficulty. That is why he put a lot of emphasis on the people in this speech.'
South Korea's opposition leader Kim derided the teary display by the North Korean leader after the weekend's parade.
Referring to the shooting of a fisheries official by North Koran troops last month, he said: 'It was appalling to see him shed crocodile tears after shooting our citizen to death.'
During the parade, Kim unveiled a 'monster' new intercontinental ballistic missile which is capable of reaching the US mainland.
Analysts said the missile, which was shown on a transporter vehicle with 11 axles, would be one of the largest road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in the world if it becomes operational.
'This missile is a monster,' said Melissa Hanham, deputy director of the Open Nuclear Network.
Also displayed were the Hwasong-15, which is the longest-range missile ever tested by North Korea, and what appeared to be a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
Ahead of the parade, officials in South Korea and the United States said Kim Jong Un could use the event to unveil a new 'strategic weapon' as promised earlier this year.
A senior US administration official called the display of the ICBM 'disappointing' and called on the government to negotiate to achieve a complete denuclearisation.
The parade featured North Korea's ballistic missiles for the first time since Kim began meeting with international leaders, including US President Donald Trump, in 2018.
'We will continue to build our national defence power and self-defensive war deterrence,' Kim said, but vowed that the country's military power would not be used preemptively. He made no direct mention of the United States or the now-stalled denuclearisation talks.
Kim blamed international sanctions, typhoons, and the coronavirus for preventing him from delivering on promises of economic progress.
'I am ashamed that I have never been able to repay you properly for your enormous trust,' he said. 'My efforts and devotion were not sufficient to bring our people out of difficult livelihoods.'
The video showed Kim make an appearance as a clock struck midnight. Dressed in a grey suit and tie, he waved to the crowd and accepted flowers from children while surrounded by military officials in Pyongyang's recently renovated Kim Il Sung Square.
The parade was highly choreographed, with thousands of troops marching in formation, displays of new conventional military equipment including tanks, and fighter jets launching flares and fireworks.
Experts said that the new, larger ICBM is likely designed to carry multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing it to attack more targets and making interception more difficult.
The new ICBM is likely intended to dispel doubts about North Korea's ability to strike the continental United States, and an implicit threat that they are preparing to test the larger missile, said Markus Garlauskas, a former US intelligence officer for North Korea.
'If the Hwasong-15 could carry a 'super-large' nuclear warhead to anywhere in the U.S., then the natural question is what can this larger missile carry?,' he said.
Kim became visibly emotional as he thanked the troops for their sacrifice in responding to natural disasters and preventing a corovonavirus outbreak.
He said he was grateful that not a single North Korean had tested positive for the disease, an assertion that South Korea and the United States have previously questioned.
While attendees at other celebratory events were shown wearing masks, no one at the parade appeared to be wearing them.
Kim said he hoped that North and South Korea would join hands again when the global coronavirus crisis is over.
South Korean officials said this week that Kim could use the event as a 'low intensity' show of power ahead of the U.S. presidential election on November 3, as denuclearisation talks with Washington have stalled.
In a congratulatory message to Kim for the anniversary, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he intended to 'defend, consolidate and develop' ties with North Korea, its state media said on Saturday.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.