The anniversary is taking place as North Korea copes with flooding from the seasonal monsoon rains that strike the peninsula every July. Eight people were killed, more than 4,500 homes destroyed and 17,700 left homeless this week, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
And in a reminder of the tensions that still roil the divided peninsula, Pyongyang on Thursday threatened to reposition troops at a stalled inter-Korean factory park at a North Korean border town. The warning, which Pyongyang has made before, came after failed talks to reopen the factory park that was a rare symbol of cooperation between the rivals before it was shuttered in April amid tension.
Scores of foreign visitors have arrived in Pyongyang this week, including a planeload of journalists from the U.S., Japan, China, Russia and elsewhere. China's vice president, Li Yuanchao, met with North Korean leader Kim on Thursday.
Li told Kim that his delegation has a mission to "preserve and glorify down through generations the blood-sealed militant friendship" between the countries and China remains firm on its policy to steadily consolidate bilateral ties, according to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency. Kim replied North Korea will always remember China's assistance during the Korean War and that boosting bilateral ties is also his country's "steadfast will," it said.
Li conveyed to Kim a verbal message of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, KCNA said without elaborating.
The two Americans, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Thomas Hudner , of Concord, Massachusetts, and Dick Bonelli, a former U.S. Marine from Englewood, Florida, are in North Korea on a mission to revisit Jangjin County, better known to Americans as the Chosin Reservoir — site of one of the deadliest battles of the Korean War.
"It's a very emotional occasion to be here with so many veterans — not only the veterans but also the people of the nation who turned out to show their support to all of veterans," said Hudner, who received the Medal of Honor for trying to save his downed wingman, Ensign Jesse Brown, at the Chosin Reservoir in 1950.