PICTURES

North Korea stages military parade to mark war anniversary

Dancers use hoops during an 'Arrirang' performance at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers use hoops during an 'Arrirang' performance at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Performers warm up prior to an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Performers warm up prior to an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Attendees applaud North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prior to an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Attendees applaud North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prior to an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
North Korean army veterans watch an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
North Korean army veterans watch an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
North Korean army vehicles line up during preparations for a militay parade in Pyongyang early on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
North Korean army vehicles line up during preparations for a militay parade in Pyongyang early on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Spectators applaud an appearance by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prior to an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Spectators applaud an appearance by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prior to an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
A general view shows fireworks during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
A general view shows fireworks during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
North Korean army veterans watch an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
North Korean army veterans watch an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Performers dance during an 'Arrirang' performance at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Performers dance during an 'Arrirang' performance at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Participants prepare for an 'Arrirang' performance at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Participants prepare for an 'Arrirang' performance at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadiumin Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Dancers perform during an 'Arrirang Festival mass games display' at the 150,000-seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
North Korean students use different coloured cardboards to form portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Jong Iil and Kim Il Sung (left) as background during a mass gymnastic and artistic performance "Arirang", in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013, as par
North Korean students use different coloured cardboards to form portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Jong Iil and Kim Il Sung (left) as background during a mass gymnastic and artistic performance "Arirang", in Pyongyang on July 26, 2013, as part of celebrations ahead of the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (centre left) sits with China's Vice President Li Yuanchao (centre R) in Kim Il-Sung square during a military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean war armistice in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (centre left) sits with China's Vice President Li Yuanchao (centre R) in Kim Il-Sung square during a military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean war armistice in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Female North Korean soldiers parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War at Kim Il-sung Square, in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Female North Korean soldiers parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War at Kim Il-sung Square, in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Female North Korean soldiers parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War at Kim Il-sung Square, in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Female North Korean soldiers parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War at Kim Il-sung Square, in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
North Korean students holding weapons parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War at Kim Il-sung Square, in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
North Korean students holding weapons parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War at Kim Il-sung Square, in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
In this image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, waves, along with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, left, during a military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Saturda
In this image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, waves, along with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, left, during a military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Saturday, July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Female North Korean soldiers parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War at Kim Il Sung Square, in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Female North Korean soldiers parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War at Kim Il Sung Square, in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
North Korean tanks pass through Kim Il Sung square as helicopters fly above during a military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean war armistice in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
North Korean tanks pass through Kim Il Sung square as helicopters fly above during a military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean war armistice in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
North Korean soldiers parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War at Kim Il Sung Square, in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
North Korean soldiers parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War at Kim Il Sung Square, in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
In this image made from video, a military truck carrying a missile parades during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Saturday, July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
In this image made from video, a military truck carrying a missile parades during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Saturday, July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
In this image made from video, military trucks carrying a missile parade during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Saturday, July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
In this image made from video, military trucks carrying a missile parade during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Saturday, July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the people during a parade to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the people during a parade to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
North Korean soldiers march through Kim Il Sung square during a military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean war armistice in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
North Korean soldiers march through Kim Il Sung square during a military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean war armistice in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP

PYONGYANG (AFP) - The North Korean capital Pyongyang put its military hardware on show at a major parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War ceasefire, presided over by leader Kim Jong Un.

Thousands of troops and spectators roared "Protect Kim Jong Un with our lives" when the youthful leader appeared on the podium, flanked by top party and military leaders at the sprawling Kim Il Sung square, state TV showed.

The parade, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War ceasefire on July 27, 1953 will be closely watched for any evidence that the North has made tangible progress in its ballistic missile programme.

The last mass military parade in the North Korean capital was held on April 15 last year, for the birth centenary of the North's founder leader Kim Il Sung.

Since then, the North successfully launched a long-range rocket in December and conducted its third nuclear test in February.

Both events drew UN sanctions and triggered a dangerous surge in military tensions on the Korean peninsula that lasted for several months.

At Saturday's parade, Mr Kim and his troops saluted as the blue, white and red national flag and the yellow and red flag of the ruling Workers' Party were raised.

"Let's fight, fight, fight... for our republic!" soldiers chanted.

The parade was conducted with two large portraits of Mr Kim's father and grandfather hung on the front side of the gigantic Grand People's Study Hall, situated on the square.

Mr Choe Ryong Hae, the North's highest military official, said in a speech that "the proud and victorious history" created by the North's founder Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il had passed down to "our great general Kim Jong Un" in a third generation succession.

"The respected leader Kim Jong Un has upgraded our military and taken the solidarity among our people to a whole new level," Mr Choe said.

"Peaceful environment is more important than anything else for our country that strives to achieve economic construction and improvement of the lives of people."

He said, however, North Korea has to be ready for war if it wants peace.

"All servicemen and people should... strengthen our defence and be firmly prepared to fend off any attacks from the outside."

The parade last April witnessed the first major public speech by Kim Jong Un since coming to power following his father Kim Jong Il's death in December 2011.

He was widely expected to make a similar address on Saturday.

China's Vice President Li Yuanchao, heading the Chinese delegation invited for the anniversary celebrations, joined Mr Kim on the podium.

China's relationship with North Korea - famously described by late Chinese leader Mao Zedong as being as close as "lips and teeth" - was forged in the 1950-53 Korean war which China entered to prevent the North's total defeat.

But it has weakened significantly over the years, as China's economic transformation has distanced it from the ideological rigidity of the dynastic Kim regime across the border.

In line with UN sanctions, Beijing has moved to restrict Pyongyang's financial operations in China which the international community says are the major conduit for funding its nuclear weapons programme.

Mr Li is the most senior Chinese official to visit Pyongyang since Mr Kim took power.

During talks on Wednesday, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua said Mr Li told Mr Kim that Beijing would push for a resumption of talks on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Mr Li joined Mr Kim on Friday evening to watch a performance of the Arirang mass games by tens of thousands of gymnasts, dancers and students at Pyongyang's 150,000-capacity May Day stadium.

Prior to the performance, the head of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly Kim Yong Nam gave a speech, praising the North's "great victory" in the Korean War.

"The US imperialists sustained a heavy defeat for the first time in their more than 100-year-long history of wars of aggression," Mr Kim said.