SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited a cemetery to pay respects to the soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War to commemorate the armistice that ended the fighting in the war, a state broadcaster reported Tuesday.
The Korean War ended in the armistice signed July 27, 1953, leaving South and North Korea technically in a state of war. The North called the war the Fatherland Liberation War and designated the armistice signing date as Victory Day.
Kim visited the Fatherland Liberation War Martyr’s Cemetery in Pyongyang at midnight Monday to mark the 68th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, according to the North’s state Korean Central Broadcasting Station.
Top officials accompanied Kim, including Pak Jong-chon, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army. The broadcaster also confirmed that Ri Yong-gil has been appointed the defense minister, replacing Kim Jong-gwan.
The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party, said that Kim delivered food, medicine and other gifts to the war veterans to mark the anniversary.
A national conference of war veterans is expected to take place in Pyongyang on Tuesday for the second straight year.
War veterans participating in the conference paid respects to the fallen soldiers Monday and watched a performance in celebration of the anniversary.
Observers say the North appears to be aimed at tightening internal unity in the face of deepening economic fallout caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.
North Korea marks the anniversary of the conflict as it struggles to ward off the coronavirus and bolster its economic growth amid protracted border controls and global sanctions.