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All Headlines 14:08 July 31, 2008

*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 2)

N. Korea Marks Armistice Anniversary with Emphasis on Economic Construction

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Marking the 55th anniversary of the armistice which concluded the 1950-53 Korean War, North Korea emphasized the need for economic construction while pledging victory in its struggle against the U.S. "imperialists" and their followers. Last year, North Korea marked the day with less hostility toward the U.S. in line with changing bilateral relations.

A national meeting was held at the April 25 House of Culture on July 27 to celebrate the anniversary of the armistice agreement, and was attended by senior officials of the party, the army and the state.

In addition, workers in different parts of the country held a variety of events including the performance of the revolutionary drama "Mountain Shrine" in Pyongyang and "Acrobats of the Pyongyang Circus," according to reports from the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korea claims it defeated the U.S. imperialists in what it calls the great "Fatherland Liberation War." The two countries remain technically in a state of war under the armistice agreement.

Meanwhile, North Korean media urged the U.S. to replace the armistice with a peace accord as required by the trend of the history. The media also called upon its own people to contribute to the construction of economic power by building "Kangsong Taeguk," roughly translated as "a great, prosperous and powerful country."

During a report from the national meeting in Pyongyang on July 26, the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station said that Vice Marshal Kim Il-chol, who is the minister of the People's Armed Forces, urged North Korean people to advance the construction of the Kangsong Taeguk by achieving economic construction with the struggling spirit of the 1950s.

"Today our revolutionary armed forces are providing a sure military guarantee for the victory in the struggle to build a rich and powerful country in the anti-imperialist, anti-U.S. standoff, having war deterrent powerful enough to deter any aggressor forces from daring to attack them," Kim was quoted as saying.

Kim said that a grave situation is now prevailing in Korea due to the moves of the U.S. imperialists and their followers and added, "If the U.S. conservative hard-liners and South Korean warlike elements ignite a new war of aggression seeking confrontation in spite of our repeated warnings, the army and people of the DPRK (North Korea) will mobilize to the maximum the military potential to deal blows to the aggressors a thousand times heavier than those done to them during the last Korean war."

The minister demanded that Japanese "reactionaries" properly understand the will of the DPRK and ponder the disastrous consequences to be entailed by their hostile policy toward the DPRK.

In its article, Rodong Sinmun, organ of the ruling Workers' Party, called for the replacement of the armistice agreement by a peace accord. "In order to prevent the danger of a new war and ensure durable peace on the Korean Peninsula, there is no other way but to put an end to the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and conclude a peace accord between them," the paper said.

"The above-said policy of the U.S. is a main obstacle to settling pending issues, such as the nuclear issue and ensuring peace on the peninsula," the commentary noted, claiming that the U.S. has systematically violated the fragile armistice agreement. "The hostile policy enforced by the U.S. toward the DPRK has resulted in bedeviling not only DPRK-U.S. relations, but inter-Korean relations," it said.

The newspaper claimed the "U.S. warlike forces" are straining the situation behind the scenes of the six-party talks while systematically escalating their military moves to invade the DPRK. "The military tension can never be defused on the peninsula, nor can the danger of war be removed from there unless the U.S. drops the above-said policy and replaces the armistice with a peace accord," it said.

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