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(2nd LD) N. Korea stages military parade on war anniversary
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea staged a major military parade on Saturday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War ceasefire, state television showed, with its leader Kim Jong-un in attendance.

   On the day, which is celebrated as "Victory Day" in the communist nation, goose-stepping soldiers marched through Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang as thousands of spectators wearing red and white clothes stood in a group to present the young leader's name.

  


Flanked by senior military leaders, Kim, who was wearing a Mao-style suit, walked on a red carpet to an upper podium, the state-run Korean Central Television showed in live footage.

   The parade was conducted with two large portraits of Kim's grandfather, Il-sung, and his late father, Jong-il, hung on the front of the Grand People's Study Hall. Some soldiers and old veterans attended the parade in old combat uniforms worn during the war.

   Choe Ryong-hae, the director of the military's powerful General Political Bureau, delivered a speech to call for the nation to be ready for war at any time.

   "A peaceful environment is important for our country that puts priority on economic construction and improvement of the lives of our people," Choe said.

   "All armed forces and people should ... strengthen the nation's defense posture and stand ready for a combat situation to be able to defend against any intrusion by foreign forces."

   Kim made his first major public speech during a parade in April 2012 in celebration of the centennial birthday of the country's founder Kim Il-sung, but he did not make an address on Saturday's event.

   It is the first time since 1993 that North Korea has staged a parade on the armistice anniversary. The North usually held military parades on its national foundation day or the birthday of its late founder, Kim Il-sung.

   Armored vehicles and trucks carrying cannons and multiple rocket launchers followed the march. Helicopters and fighter jets conducted an air show and an unmanned aircraft joined the performance.

   The North's state media revealed a drone during a military drill in late March when tensions were running high as Pyongyang threatened to strike Seoul and Washington against the allies' annual military drills.

   Mobile launchers carrying Scud, Nodong and Musudan ballistic missiles as well as its newest missile, the KN-08, followed in succession.

   A South Korean government source said that about 300 pieces of weapons appear to have been mobilized for Saturday's parade, but no state-of-the-art weapons were seen.

   "New weapons did not appear this year and the number of weapons displayed during the parade was estimated to be about half the number in 2012," the source said.

   Some of the soldiers who took part in the parade were seen dressed in uniforms with signs that they may be from anti-chemical and anti-radioactive units, the source said.

   "Although there is no evidence that the North has developed small-sized nuclear weapons, their participation in the parade shows that the country may have developed portable nuke weapons on their own," the source said.

   During the ceremony, Kim was often seen talking with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, showing signs of close relations with North Korea's major ally and economic benefactor.

   Li visited the North to commemorate the ceremony as China had fought alongside the North against South Korean and U.N. forces. He is the most senior Chinese official to visit Pyongyang since Kim took power in December 2011.

   In North Korea, the armistice day has been celebrated as "Victory Day" in what it calls "the Fatherland Liberation War" to praise Kim Il-sung's achievements during the conflict.

   ejkim@yna.co.kr
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