Skip to main content

North Korea's Kim Jong Un honors country's war veterans

By Ivan Watson and Tim Schwarz, CNN
updated 6:41 AM EDT, Fri July 26, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kim Jong Un opens new war veterans' cemetery in North Korean capital
  • North Koreans set to commemorate 60th anniversary of end of Korean War
  • Pyongyang government has invited a large number of foreign journalists

Pyongyang, North Korea (CNN) -- The new leader of this isolated country has inaugurated a new veterans' cemetery, on the first of what are expected to be several days of elaborate ceremonies celebrating the 60th anniversary of the conclusion of the Korean War.

Several thousand North Koreans, some of them elderly veterans of the conflict, cheered and applauded when Kim Jong Un arrived at the sprawling new cemetery accompanied by uniformed military commanders and civilian officials.

Kim did not speak to the audience. Instead, he cut a ribbon at the entrance to the cemetery compound, which is flanked by enormous monuments and statues depicting fierce North Korean soldiers.

Read: U.S. hero pays respects in North Korea

He departed after making a brief tour of some of the gravestones. Then the crowd, which included men in baggy, dark suits and ties and women dressed in bright puffy gowns, walked with reverence past graves decorated with medals of heroism.

Weather hampers U.S. vets' quest
Memories of fighting for North Korea
Chinese vets remember Korean War

A woman named Kim Pu Ok flung herself weeping at the grave of her husband, a man named Chu Yung Hui who died at the age of 74 in 2011.

Read: Chosin -- The epic battle Hollywood overlooked

Kim said her husband was a pilot in the Vietnam War. She stood next to her son, who she said was also a pilot.

"There are five pilots in our family," Kim said. "I am very angry at the U.S. imperialist policy against North Korea. That is why all of my family became Korean People's Army pilots -- to conquer the U.S. imperialists."

The North Korean government has invited a large number of foreign journalists to attend the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which brought an end to the Korean War.

Read: Why the Korean War still matters

Pyongyang describes the war as a decisive North Korean victory over Washington and its South Korean allies.

Among the foreign visitors invited to attend this week's anniversary celebrations are several Chinese veterans and at least one former Soviet veteran of the conflict. Also present at Wednesday's event was Thomas Hudner, a veteran U.S. Navy pilot who has been granted permission to return to North Korea to search for the remains of a fallen comrade.

Hudner's 60-year quest has been postponed, North Korean authorities say, because of torrential rains in the area where the remains are believed to be buried. Hudner has been invited back to resume his search in September.

CNN's Paula Hancocks in Pyongyang contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:43 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
A captured fighter tells CNN's Ivan Watson: "They gave us drugs... that made you go to battle."
updated 9:31 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life checks off the last item.
updated 7:40 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
In a plot straight out of Hollywood, federal agents gain access to a suspected Triad boss' Vegas hotel room by pretending to fix the Internet connection.
updated 12:34 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Was it only black and Latino men who harassed a woman in NYC? The filmmaker has found himself in a race controversy.
updated 10:15 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
The history of human rights often overlooks the struggles of gay people. This must change.
updated 9:15 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Armed with Kalashnikovs and chanting for the dead comrades, women are among ISIS' most feared enemies. They are fighting for their families -- and now they are getting U.S. help.
updated 8:46 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Lere Mgayiya put his best foot forward and set up a shoe-shine firm after his career plans fell flat.
updated 1:28 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
One Chinese drone manufacturer wants to take away the warmongering stigma of "drones."
updated 11:12 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Sketcher Luis Simoes is traveling the world -- slowly. And he's packed his sketchbook.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
European states help North Korea's brutal treatment of its people by allowing luxury goods like cars and cognacs to evade sanctions, two experts say.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 7:04 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT