Kim Jong-un gifts pistols with his name engraved to generals as they pose like gangsters on war anniversary
To mark the 67th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un handed out dozens of pistols marked with his name to his commanders on Monday, July 27. The official news agency of the country, KCNA, reported that Kim presented his generals at the weekend with “commemorative pistols bearing his august name in token of his trust” as they pledged their loyalty to him.
Photos released by the agency showed Kim in his usual black suit, surrounded by North Korean generals and senior officers holding the symbolic weapons, called "Paektusan" pistols, to their chests as they celebrated the end of what is known as the 'Glorious Fatherland Liberation War.'
According to the South China Morning Post, the weapons were named after Mount Paektu, the dormant volcano on the Chinese-Korean border which is regarded as the spiritual birthplace of the Korean people and hence bears great significance for the citizens of the country. In one of the photos, the chief of the general staff Vice Marshal Pak Jong-chon, was seen pointing his gun directly up rather than sideways like others in the pictures as he was sitting to the right of Kim and the barrel would have otherwise been pointing directly at their leader.
As North Korea faces crippling sanctions and a possible coronavirus outbreak, Kim, who has only made rare public appearances this year, also visited a cemetery, laid a single rose, and bowed down before a large monument as he attempted to bolster public support. On the other hand, in the southern part of the Korean peninsula, masked veterans gathered for a ceremony, and all maintained social distancing to celebrate the anniversary.
The infamous war, which claimed the lives of millions, started when Kim Jong-un's grandfather and then-leader of the North invaded the US-backed South with the goal of reunifying the peninsula that had been divided at the end of World War II by a decision made by Washington and Moscow. The war ended after three bloody years on July 27, 1953, with a ceasefire that has never been officially replaced by a peace treaty.
Recently in a speech, Kim was quoted saying the "vicious virus" might have entered North Korea after a 24-year-old man with Covid-19 symptoms reportedly entered the country after defecting in 2017. As a result, Kaesong, a city of 300,000 people, was put into lockdown and a maximum national emergency was declared. Since then North reportedly built up a nuclear arsenal claiming that it needs to protect itself against a US invasion. Any discussions about potential denuclearization efforts on the North's part have been largely at a standstill since the Hanoi summit collapsed over sanctions relief last year. Since then relations between Seoul and Pyongyang have steadily worsened as the North blew up a liaison office on its side of the border.
Previously, “there was an air of cautious optimism as the world witnessed a significant and palpable reduction of tensions between North and South Korea” General Robert Abrams, the commander of UN Command and US Forces Korea, noted. “Today, this cautious optimism has shifted somewhat to an air of uncertainty.”