Tuesday 17 October 2017

N Korea military marks anniversary

Military vehicles are pictured on video during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea (AP)
Military vehicles are pictured on video during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea (AP)

A military ceremony has been held in the capital of North Korea to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

Goose-stepping soldiers, columns of tanks and a broad array of ominous-looking missiles poised on mobile launchers paraded through Pyongyang's main square on Saturday in a painstakingly choreographed pageant intended to strike fear into North Korea's adversaries and rally its people behind young ruler Kim Jong Un.

Overlooking a sea of spectators mobilised in Kim Il Sung Square to cheer and wave flags, leader Kim Jong Un saluted his troops and waved from a review stand, flanked by senior military officials, the chests of their olive green and white uniforms laden with medals.

As fighter jets screamed overhead, a relaxed looking Kim smiled and talked with China's vice president.

China fought with North Korea during the war and is Pyongyang's only major ally and a crucial source of economic aid.

Kim's rule, which began in late 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, has been marked by unusually high tensions with Washington and Seoul. He has overseen two long-range rocket launches and a nuclear test that drew widespread condemnation and tightened UN sanctions.

North and South Korea have turned to tentative diplomacy in recent weeks, but March and April saw North Korean threats of nuclear war against Washington and Seoul in response to annual South Korean-US military drills and UN condemnation of Pyongyang's February nuclear test, the country's third.

Saturday's parade was held to mark a holiday the North Koreans call Victory Day in the Fatherland Liberation War, although the 1950-53 Korean War it refers to ended in a truce and the Korean Peninsula remains technically at war.

To commemorate the anniversary, North Korea has over the past week also staged huge mass rallies in its capital and put on elaborate fireworks shows.

In South Korea, the anniversary was marked with a speech by president Park Geun-hye, an exhibit on the war's history and a planned anti-North Korea rally.

Press Association

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