SEOUL, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged congratulatory messages on the 71st anniversary of Japan's surrender, according to North Korea's state media.
Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA reported Kim told Putin that he "sends a friendly greeting to your country and your people on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of Korean liberation."
Kim also stated that he is "convinced" of the "strengthening development" of North Korea-Russia relations, citing a past history of "difficult struggles" against a "common enemy," News 1 reported.
Putin reportedly sent a message to Kim to mark the occasion, but it was unconfirmed whether the message was sent in response to Kim's missive.
Putin congratulated Kim on the "occasion of Liberation Day," and that Russia "remembers the Red Army soldiers and Korean patriots who sacrificed their lives for independence," according to the North Korean statement issued Monday.
"The glorious traditions of friendship and cooperation that existed among the wartime regiments are the reliable foundations for the development of relations between Russia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," North Korea quoted the message from Putin as saying.
Putin also stated in his message that he hopes "beneficial cooperation" between Russia and North Korea in the area of science and technology, "humanitarian fields," would be pursued and be conducive to peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia.
North Korea observes Aug. 15 with a national holiday, but the mood was less than festive, according to the Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.
"The tragedy of ethnic division continues today, more than 70 years after the liberation of the country," a first-page article in the paper read.
The article also urged readers to defend Pyongyang's Kumsusan Palace of the Sun with their lives.
The structure serves as a mausoleum for former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and is undergoing a renovation.