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Kim Jong Un pays respects to China's fallen soldiers

The rare nod to China indicates North Korea may be seeking food aid from Beijing as it struggles with drought conditions.

By Elizabeth Shim
Kim Jong Un pays respects to China's fallen soldiers
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un paid respects to previous leaders Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung on Monday at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun. Photo by KCNA/Yonhap

SEOUL, July 27 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un paid his respects to China's fallen soldiers during the 1950-53 Korean War as Pyongyang vowed to unify the peninsula.

Kim's tribute Sunday to Chinese troops who fought alongside North Korean soldiers comes as the isolated country is battling what it claims is the "worst drought in 100 years," South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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Zhang Lian'gui, a professor at the Institute of International Strategic Studies at the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China, told Shenzhen Satellite TV Kim's homage is a rare expression of gratitude.

The remark is an indirect method of requesting food aid from China, Zhang said, according to Yonhap.

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On Saturday at a North Korean veterans convention held before the 62nd anniversary of the Armistice Agreement, Kim told former soldiers that the "China's People's Volunteer Army fought, bled and sacrificed alongside North Korean soldiers."

"I send my highest respects to veterans and comrades of the People's Volunteer Army," Kim said, according to China's Xinhua News Agency.

The Armistice Agreement that brought truce to the Korean War in 1953 is known as Victory Day in North Korea.

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Pyongyang claims the war began when the United States and South Korea invaded the North, and July 27, 1953, is celebrated as a day of victory when North Korean forces defeated "U.S. imperialists."

During a ceremony at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where Kim Jong Un paid respects to previous leaders, military top brass Pak Yong Sik warned of a "second Korean War" that will lead to the downfall of the United States.

Referring to the Armistice Agreement as a U.S. "notice of surrender," Pak said if Washington were to instigate a new war the invaders would be "completely destroyed and swept away."

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"We would then proceed to achieve the historical feat of unification," Pak said.

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