North Korea denounces 'US imperialists' on Korean War anniversary

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (second from right) gives field guidance at a historic site associated with the Korean War in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (second from right) gives field guidance at a historic site associated with the Korean War in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea issued a call to arms against "gangster US imperialists" in a statement released on Thursday to mark the 65th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.

The Stalinist state's powerful National Defence Commission (NDC) made the appeal on the anniversary of the devastating conflict which the North maintains was started by the United States.

"We appeal to the world to turn out in the worldwide anti-US struggle to dismember the gangster US imperialists", said the statement carried by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency.

In a tirade typical of the North's state media, it continued: "Asia should turn out to cut off the US right hand, Africa should rise up to cut off the US left land, the Mid-east has to cut off the US ankles and Europe has to cut off the US neck."

"The only way for the US to take is to make apology before the army and people of the DPRK and hoist a white flag," it said.

In South Korea, the anniversary was low-key, but Prime Minister Hwang Kyo Ahn presided over a state ceremony where he called for vigilance.

"We should strengthen our security preparedness and military power... as the situation on the Korean peninsula remains unstable six decades after the war ended," he said.

"The government will deal sternly with any provocations from North Korea."

The Korean War of 1950-53 started with a massive North Korean attack across the 38th parallel, along which the Korean peninsula was divided into the communist North and the capitalist South.

It soon developed into an international war, drawing in the United States and its allies on the South's side and China on the North's side.

About one million South Koreans were killed or wounded, while casualties among North Korean civilians are estimated to be 1.5 million.

Some 140,000 South Korean soldiers died in action and 450,000 others were wounded. Casualties among North Korean and Chinese soldiers are believed to be much higher.

More than 40,000 US soldiers were killed and some 100,000 wounded. As the conflict ended with a fragile armistice rather than a peace treaty, the two Koreas are still, technically, at war.

Cross-border tension remains high, especially concerning the North's series of nuclear and missile tests over the past few years.