PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korean officials warned the United States that another war on the Korean Peninsula would leave no Americans alive to sign a surrender document as the country marked Monday's anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War more than six decades ago.
Pyongyang and other cities around North Korea were decked out with flags and banners as North Koreans flocked to patriotic gatherings and mass dance celebrations to mark the anniversary of the July 27, 1953, agreement that brought the three-year Korean war to an end with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
North Korean officials took the opportunity of the anniversary to step up their anti-U.S. rhetoric and call upon the nation to redouble its devotion to the nation's current leader, Kim Jong Un, the third leader in the Kim dynasty, and prepare for a final showdown with Washington.
The anniversary is hailed in North Korea as a victory over the U.S., which fought with the South Koreans and U.N. allies against the North's forces, who were supported by China and the Soviet Union.
In a speech to veterans on Saturday, Kim Jong Un stressed the importance of instilling the country's young people with the same fighting spirit and devotion as the generation that experienced the war. But he also stressed that North Korea has a new ace in the hole — a nuclear arsenal of its own.
"Gone forever is the era when the United States blackmailed us with nukes; now the United States is no longer a source of threat and fear for us and we are the very source of fear for it," he said in the speech, the text of which was broadcast on North Korean television.
At a separate gathering held Sunday, Korean People's Army Gen. Pak Yong Sik, who is believed to be the country's new defense minister, said that if the United States does not abandon its hostile policies toward Pyongyang and provokes another war, the North is prepared to fight until "there would be no one left to sign a surrender document."
"It is more than 60 years since the ceasefire on (the) land, but peace has not yet settled on it," he told the meeting, which included high-level officials, veterans and diplomats stationed in Pyongyang. "The past Korean War brought about the beginning of the downhill turn for the U.S., but the second Korean war will bring the final ruin to U.S. imperialism."
The anniversary brought a festive atmosphere to the capital, with citizens using the holiday not only to show their patriotic pride by laying flowers before statues of North Korea's first president Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il, but also to enjoy the warm summer weather at parks and ice cream stands.