Kelly Olsen / Associated Press – 2010-07-10 18:08:14
SEOUL, South Korea (June 26, 2010) — Tens of thousands of North Koreans rallied in their capital Friday to condemn the United States and South Korea on the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, while Seoul told Pyongyang to admit responsibility for a deadly warship sinking.
One large poster at the rally in Pyongyang depicted a man kicking an American soldier and the slogan “US Army, Get Out.” Another sign said, “Kick Them Out With a Single Punch,” according to footage shot by broadcaster APTN.
At least 120,000 people marched through the streets, “raising shouts for hatred and wrath at the US imperialists and the South Korean group of traitors kowtowing to them,” according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
The mood surrounding the 60th anniversary of the war’s outbreak is far different from that at the 50th, which came just days after the conclusion of the first-ever summit between the Koreas in Pyongyang.
Tensions are high following the March sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in which 46 sailors died. South Korea has blamed the North for the attack, which Pyongyang denies. Relations were already sour since conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in 2008 in Seoul with a harder line toward the North than his liberal predecessor.
The Korean conflict started in the early hours of June 25, 1950, with an attack on the South by North Korean troops. The Korean peninsula had been divided in 1945 after colonial ruler Japan’s defeat in World War II.
The United States and 15 other countries sent troops to aid South Korea, while Chinese soldiers fought with the North and the Soviet Union provided air support. Three years of combat devastated both sides. The fighting ended with an armistice, not a permanent peace treaty, leaving the peninsula in a technical state of war.
In Seoul, South Korea held a ceremony to remember the war, widely known as “6/25” for the date it began. President Lee Myung-bak presented plaques of appreciation to representatives of countries that sent soldiers or supplies to aid the war effort.
The gathering was attended by South Korean and foreign veterans of the conflict, foreign ambassadors and South Korean and US soldiers. The U.S. stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent against North Korea.
(C) San Francisco Chronicle 2010
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