PYONGYANG, North Korea — The 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, meaning the two Koreas remain technically at war. But in North Korea, the anniversary of the agreement ending the hostilities is commemorated as “Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War,” a major national holiday.
Sunday’s 61st anniversary was low-key. There were no large-scale military parades or public appearances by leader Kim Jong Un, who privately paid his respects just after midnight at the mausoleum where his father and grandfather lie in state.
Veterans, now in their 70s and 80s, many wearing uniforms laden with medals and clutching bouquets of flowers, were celebrated in patriotic events around the country.
In Pyongyang’s central plaza, Kim Il Sung Square, the aged veterans, some crying, told war stories. A mass chorus of schoolchildren sang odes to Kim Jong Un and a crowd of college students was exhorted to be “the new generation” in building North Korea under Kim’s leadership.
To lighten the mood, they were also treated to a show of square dancing and taekwondo. After watching the official events, many people in Pyongyang took advantage of a sunny day off to enjoy family outings along the capital’s riverside promenades.
Estimates for the war dead vary between 2.5 million and 4 million, and the border between the two Koreas remains one of the most heavily fortified in the world.