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Three Capitals Observe 60th Anniversary Of Korean Armistice

Tourists visit the Korean War Veteran Memorial on the National Mall on Friday.
Saul Loeb
AFP/Getty Images
Tourists visit the Korean War Veteran Memorial on the National Mall on Friday.

Sixty years after the armistice that ended hostilities in the Korean War, North Korea was celebrating 'Victory Day' with a show of military force that included goose-stepping soldiers, mobile missile launchers and armored columns.

In South Korea, meanwhile, President Park Geun-hye vowed not to tolerate provocations from Pyongyang.

Park is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, president of South Korea from 1963-1979 and North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un is the grandson of the country's founder, 'Great Leader' Kim Il Sung.

In other words, apart from the actual shooting, not much has changed in the last six decades on either side of the 38th parallel, which cleaves the Korean landmass in two.

Separating the antagonists is the world's most heavily fortified border – complete with landmines, search lights, razor wire and watchtowers – an ominous vestige of a brutal Cold War conflict that drew in not only the divided peninsula, but the United Nations, United States and Britain, China and even Russia. It claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, including more than 36,000 Americans in three years of fighting.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was joined by Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao on the podium overlooking the parade of military hardware marking the anniversary. Pyongyang and Beijing have maintained close relations, despite tension over North Korea's internationally condemned nuclear weapons program.

In Washington, President Obama on Saturday urged Americans to take time from their "hurried lives" to remember the sacrifice of the country's Korean War veterans.

"Unlike the Second World War, Korea did not galvanize our country. These veterans did not return to parades," Obama said in a speech at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. "Unlike Vietnam, Korea did not tear at our country. These veterans did not return to protests. For many Americans tired of war, there was it seemed a desire to forget, to move on," Obama said.

They "deserve better," he said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.

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