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Korean Peninsula, Obama Mark Armistice Anniversary

  • VOA News

Koreans across the peninsula have observed the 60th anniversary of the 1953 armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War.

North Korea held a massive military parade Saturday to mark a holiday the North calls, "Victory Day in the Fatherland Liberation War."

Leader Kim Jong Un, flanked by top party and military chiefs and chatting with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, watched from a reviewing stand as thousands of goose-stepping troops, tanks and missiles were paraded through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.

Helicopters and military jets screamed overhead as Kim saluted the troops.

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

The head of the United Nations forces in the Korean peninsula, James Thurman, attended a special ceremony in the Demilitarized Zone between the two nations.

"My job is to prevent war here. We don't need another war on the Korean Peninsula. And today, 60 years after the armistice, we've been able to maintain peace and stability. But I would encourage North Korea to, one, denuclearize, and two, quit threatening the Republic of Korea and the region."

Military parades in North Korea are always closely watched for any signs of progress in Pyongyang's missile program. In last year's parade, the North rolled out mysterious long-range missiles that most observers now believe were mock-ups.

Since the Korean War ended with an armistice and no peace treaty was ever signed, the two Koreas are still technically at war.

Obama honors Korean war vets

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) bows his head after laying a wreath on the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, July 27, 2013.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) bows his head after laying a wreath on the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, July 27, 2013.

U.S. President Barack Obama called the Korean War a victory for the United States and its allies that gave the people of South Korea a chance for a brighter future.

Obama spoke to a sea of Korean War veterans and their families Saturday in Washington at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. The ceremony honored the 60th anniversary of the Korean Armistice signing that ended fighting in 1953 and established a demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

The president said some critics of the war have called the armistice a stalemate, but he disagreed.

"We can say with confidence that war was no tie. Korea was a victory. When 50 million South Koreans live in freedom, a vibrant democracy, one of the world's most dynamic economies — in stark contrast to the repression and poverty of the North — that is a victory and that is your legacy," said Obama.

The president praised American service men and women for "leaving behind everyone they loved to fight for a people they had never met." He said the war showed the world the United States will remain a force for peace, security and prosperity.

The president also laid a wreath at the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

South Korea sent political and military leaders to Washington to honor Korean War veterans. Special envoy Kim Jung Hun thanked the veterans for giving their "blood, sweat and tears" so that his people could live in freedom.
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