News / Asia

North Korean Leader Makes Rare Public Appearence

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives at the cemetery for fallen fighters of the Korean People's Army in Pyongyang, July 25, 2013.
  • North Korean senior military officials arrive for the opening ceremony of the cemetery for fallen fighters of the Korean People's Army in Pyongyang, July 25, 2013.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un salutes as honor guards march past at the cemetery for fallen fighters of the Korean People's Army in Pyongyang, July 25, 2013.
  • A North Korean woman cries as she mourns her father, who died during the Korean War, after the opening ceremony of the cemetery for fallen fighters of the Korean People's Army in Pyongyang, July 25, 2013.
  • North Koreans walk among tombstones of soldiers who died during the war to pay their respects as celebrations begin to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, Pyongyang, July 25, 2013.
  • North Korean veterans enter a cemetery for Korean War veterans as celebrations begin to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, Pyongyang, July 25, 2013.
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— The North Korean leader made a rare public appearance Thursday morning, kicking off official events as the isolated country begins marking a key anniversary.

Marshal Kim Jong Un cut a red ribbon to inaugurate what is officially known as the Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs Cemetery.  Soldiers in dress uniforms briefly goose stepped at the event, kicking off days of commemoration of what the country considers the 1953 victory over U.S.-led United Nations forces on the Korean Peninsula.

Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which halted three years of devastating combat. No peace treaty has ever been signed to end the stalemate.

North Korean Leader Makes Rare Public Appearencei
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July 25, 2013
The North Korean leader made a rare public appearance Thursday morning, kicking off official events as the isolated country begins marking a key anniversary. VOA correspondent Steve Herman was at the ceremony in Pyongyang and has the story.

At the cemetery’s inauguration were two highly decorated U.S. veterans of that war.  Medal of Honor winner Thomas Hudner, who was a Navy pilot, was invited as part of his visit to the country during which he hoped to gain access to the Chosin Reservoir battle site where his wingman, Jesse Brown, crash-landed.  Hudner, who is 88, says the ceremony at the cemetery was an emotional experience as he remembered his fallen comrades

"Well it's a very emotional occasion to be here with so many veterans - not only the veterans but also the people of the nation who turned out to show their support to all of veterans," he said. "And as an American veteran, I am delighted to see that our former foe and we share some of the same feelings about this. So it is great to be here."

Hudner added he regards these types of memorials as a tribute to all of the war’s combatants, regardless of which side they were on. The American veteran, who crash-landed his plane in an unsuccessful effort to rescue Brown, intends to return here in September to precisely locate the remains of his fellow pilot. His hopes to reach the site this week were thwarted by severe flooding in the country.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

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