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South Korea Marks 61st Anniversary of Start of Korean War


South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik delivers a speech during a ceremony to mark the 61st anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, June 25, 2011

South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik delivers a speech during a ceremony to mark the 61st anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, June 25, 2011

South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik has urged North Korea to work for peace on the Korean peninsula and stop what he called "reckless military provocation".

Speaking Saturday during a ceremony in Seoul marking the 61st anniversary of the start of the Korean War, Kim invited the North to join the path "where 70 million Korean people can live together."

Meanwhile, about 10 activists, mostly North Korean defectors, gathered near the border city of Paju to release balloons filled with anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets across the demilitarized zone into the North. They said the balloons carried 100,000 leaflets, one-dollar bills, books, radios and DVDs.

The Korean War started on June 25, 1950, when communist North Korean troops launched a surprise attack across the 38th parallel into South Korea.

The United Nations, particularly the United States, came to the aid of South Korea in repelling the invasion. A rapid U.N. counter-offensive drove the North Koreans past the 38th Parallel, almost to the Yalu River, and the People's Republic of China entered the war on the side of the North.

The Chinese launched a counter-offensive that pushed the U.N. forces back across the 38th Parallel. The Soviet Union materially aided the North Korean and Chinese armies.

In 1953, the war ceased with an armistice that restored the border between the Koreas near the 38th Parallel and created the Korean Demilitarized Zone, a 4-kilometer wide buffer zone between the two Koreas. Minor outbreaks of fighting continue to the present day.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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