North Korea has celebrated the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War by staging a major military parade. The ceasefire in the 1950-53 war is celebrated in North Korea as “Victory Day.”
North Korean state television showed a lavish parade through the capital Pyongyang, with spectators shouting their allegiance to leader Kim Jong Un. China’s vice president Li Yuanchao joined North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in overseeing the parade in Kim Il-sung square, named after the founder of the North Korean state.
The celebrations appeared to be one of the largest-ever displays put on by North Korea. Fighter jets and large military helicopters flew over the square, which was packed with soldiers, North Korean and foreign veterans of the Korean War as well as diplomats.
Kim Jong Un did not make public remarks at the parade, leaving that to Choe Ryon-hae, his main military aide and the chief political operative of the North’s army. Choe’s remarks were moderate in tone, when compared to the normal rhetoric of North Korean public commentary.
Choe said the reclusive state sees peace as a top priority as well as protecting itself from invasion.
“Reality shows if peace is sought, there must be preparations for war. For us with our utmost task of building an economy and improving the lives of the people, a peaceful environment is greater than ever,” Choe said.
The ceasefire in the 1950-53 Korean War is celebrated in as “Victory Day” in North Korea, despite the conflict ending in a territorial stalemate.
The war pitted North Korean and Chinese troops against United Nations and South Korean forces, led by the US. It ended on July 27, 1953, with the signing of an armistice. At least 2.5 million people were killed in the fighting.
However the Korean peninsula remains in a technical state of war and divided between the communist north and democratic south.
Obama marks anniversary
The US president Barack Obama spoke on Saturday at a commemorative ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on Washington’s National Mall, declaring Saturday as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day.
He paid tribute the US service members who fought during the war.
Obama said that in the six decades since the end of hostilities, South Korea had become one of the world’s largest economies and an ally of the United States.
jr/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters)