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2 Koreas Mark War Anniversary After Pause in Rising Tensions

SEOUL, South Korea—North and South Korea on June 25 marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War with largely subdued commemorations amid the CCP virus pandemic, a day after the North abruptly halted a pressure campaign against the South.

South Korea issued a joint statement with the United States, which fought alongside it during the 1950-53 war triggered by a surprise North Korean invasion. The United States still stations about 28,500 soldiers in South Korea in what North Korea views as a military threat.

In the statement, South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and U.S. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said they “commit to strengthening and adapting the alliance to meet present and future challenges” and urged North Korea to implement past disarmament pledges.

Koreas War Anniversary
Koreas War Anniversary
A North Korean woman lays a bouquet of flowers during a visit to the Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs Cemetery to pay respects to the monument to the fallen soldiers of the Korean Peoples Army in Pyongyang, North Korea, on June 25, 2020. (Jon Chol Jin/AP Photo)

Jeong and other military leaders later paid their respects at a national cemetery in Seoul, where about 130,000 war-related dead, mostly South Korean soldiers, are buried or honored.

They were given special permission to enter Seoul National Cemetery, which has imposed entry restrictions amid a resurgence of the CCP virus in recent weeks. The cemetery received about 530,000 visitors in June last year but only about 61,000 this month, according to cemetery officials.

A war museum in Seoul, normally a popular place to visit on the wars anniversary or on Memorial Day on June 6, remained shut Thursday.

In the evening, South Korea was to hold a ceremony with 300 war veterans, bereaved relatives, and government officials at a military airport near Seoul. It is far less than the 4,000 people who attended last year, according to Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.

Koreas-War-Anniversary-4
Koreas-War-Anniversary-4
Actors wearing military uniforms release pigeons during a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War in Cheorwon, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, on June 25, 2020. (Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo)

North Korea marked the anniversary with visits to monuments to late soldiers and with anti-U.S. rhetoric and newspaper editorials praising its fighting in “the Fatherland Liberation War.”

An institute run by the Norths Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “we will continue to build up our strength to overwhelm the persistent nuclear threats that the U.S. has launched at us.”

The main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said in an editorial that, “The spirit of defending the country in the 1950s which brought about a victory after defeating the aggressors is valuable mental heritage to be glorified forever, generation after generation.”

Seouls Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, said there were no signs that North Korea had organized mass public events commemorating the anniversary.

Koreas-War-Anniversary
Koreas-War-Anniversary
North Koreans visit the Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs Cemetery to pay respects to the monument to the fallen soldiers of the Korean Peoples Army in Pyongyang, North Korea, on June 25, 2020. (Jon Chol Jin/AP Photo)

North Korea considers July 27, the day when the wars armistice was signed in 1953, a bigger anniversary because it views it as the day of its war victory. But the North held a mass public rally in Pyongyang, its capital, on the 65th anniversary of the wars start in 2015, the Unification Ministry said.

Seventy years after the wars beginning, the Korean Peninsula remains technically in a state of war because the armistice that ended the fighting has yet to be replaced with a peace treaty. Animosity has deepened recently as North Korea resumed aggressive rhetoric toward South Korea, blew up a Seoul-built liaison office on its territory, and threatened to take steps to nullify 2018 tension-reduction deals.

“Seventy years have passed but nothing has changed … and were tired of that,” Kim Young-man, the son of a South Korean soldier killed during Read More – Source

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