North Korea

Pyongyang honours 'heroes' of bloody Korean war 60 years on

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 July, 2013, 12:44pm

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un yesterday inaugurated a cemetery for heroes of the Korean war, watched by thousands of veterans and their families who gathered in Pyongyang for the 60th anniversary of the 1950-53 conflict. Kim, dressed in his usual black, high-collared suit and flanked by top military officials, cut a red ribbon and laid a wreath at the cemetery's main monument - a giant stone rifle barrel with a fixed bayonet pointing to the sky.

The ceremony was conducted in front of the cameras of the international media, who have been invited to the North Korean capital for the anniversary celebrations. The signing of the war armistice on July 27, 1953, is celebrated in the North as "Victory Day" and the city's streets have been lined with national flags and patriotic banners and posters. Security was extremely tight at the cemetery event.

Video: North Korea honours heroes of the Korean War

Women wearing the traditional Korean hanbok dress fanned themselves as they lined up patiently in the heat to be screened by soldiers before being allowed into the venue. The men either wore dark suits and ties or, in the case of the veterans, military uniforms, some covered from neck to waist in medals. The thousand or so graves - each engraved with a portrait - belonged to veterans deemed "heroes of the republic" whose remains were brought to the hillside cemetery from burial sites around the country.

After Kim's inspection, the invited guests descended on the ranks of gravestones looking for their relatives. "This was my eldest brother" one elderly veteran Kim Byong-ryong said as he pointed to one of the stones. "He joined up when he was just 18 and was killed in the last year of the war. Three of my other brothers were killed as well." Photos: Reuters, AP, AFP.