Tens of thousands of North Koreans gathered for large rallies over the weekend in Pyongyang, where people shouted anti-U.S. slogans and issued warnings about the regime’s alleged nuclear weapons stockpile, according to state-run media outlets.
Roughly 120,000 people, including students, reportedly turned out at rallies in the North Korean capital city on June 24 and June 25, KCNA reported.
“The whole U.S. mainland is within our shooting range” and “the imperialist U.S. is the destroyer of peace,” read placards held by masked people in a crowded stadium, in photos released by state media that may have been doctored.
The rallies were held to mark the 73rd anniversary of the start of the Korean War, coming amid concerns Pyongyang could soon conduct another launch of its first military spy satellite to boost monitoring of U.S. military activities, after its first attempt failed on May 31.
Nuclear-armed North Korea has been ramping up tension with South Korea and the South’s main ally, the United States, by testing various weapons, including its biggest intercontinental ballistic missile.
After the Korean War, the United States and North Korea’s communist regime never signed a peace treaty. North Korea and South Korea remain technically at war because their 1950–53 conflict ended in an armistice.
The conflict was triggered by North Korea when its forces launched a surprise attack on South Korea after famously crossing the 38th parallel, unlike what Pyongyang has long claimed, according to historians.
Rallygoers also proclaimed that North Korea has an expanding nuclear weapons and missile program and insisted that their country has the “strongest absolute weapon to punish the U.S. imperialists and the war deterrence for self-defense which no enemy dare provoke,” The Associated Press reported. Some also said they want to initiate a “war of revenge” against Washington.
There are signs that North Korea is planning a huge military parade in Pyongyang, where it would likely showcase its new military hardware.
Lee Sung Joon, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told AP during a recent briefing that the South’s military was closely analyzing the North’s presumed parade preparations but didn’t provide specific details. Recent commercial satellite images have shown troop and vehicle movements and the building of structures suggestive of preparations for a parade, likely for the July 27 anniversary of the Korean War armistice agreement.
Former President Donald Trump engaged in disarmament talks in 2019 with Kim Jong Un, dictator of North Korea, although a deal wasn’t reached. Kim has since launched tests of new nuclear missiles under the Biden administration with the goal of being able to reach the United States.
North Korean state-run media released a photo of a rally held in Pyongyang to mark the 73rd anniversary of the Korean War’s start, on June 25, 2023. The Epoch Times couldn’t verify whether the photo was doctored. (KCNA screenshot via The Epoch Times)
Trump has said that he had a good relationship with Kim and that he would again attempt to reach out to the isolated regime in a bid to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula. In 2019, he became the first president to set foot on North Korean soil since the 1953 armistice was signed.
“We’ll see what that means,” Trump told governors in February 2019 about working with Kim, who also praised Trump in a letter several years ago. “But he’s never had a relationship with anybody from this country and hasn’t had lots of relationships anywhere.”
Before he met with Kim, however, Trump repeatedly criticized the communist leader by calling him “little rocket man” in 2018 and said that if North Korea continues to threaten the United States, it’ll be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
Earlier this month, Trump drew criticism from Republican presidential candidates after he praised Kim for controversially being named to the executive board of the U.N. World Health Organization.
“Congratulations to Kim Jung [sic] Un!” Trump wrote via his social media platform Truth Social.
In response, candidates such as former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former Vice President Mike Pence criticized his post.
“Whether it’s my former running mate or anyone else, nobody should be praising the dictator in North Korea or praising the leader in Russia, who has launched an unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine,” Pence told Fox News earlier in June. “This is a time when we ought to make it clear to the world that we stand for freedom and we stand with those who stand for freedom.”
However, the Republican hopefuls’ criticisms of Trump appear to have had little effect on his popularity. Recent polls show that Trump enjoys broad support among Republican voters, besting DeSantis—the No. 2 candidate—by an average of about 30 percentage points.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.