North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a wreath to commemorate Russian troops on the occasion of Pyongyang’s Liberation Day, according to state media on Tuesday File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 16 (UPI) -- North Korea highlighted its friendship with Russia on the 76th anniversary of its independence from Japanese colonial rule, after Kim Jong Un exchanged messages with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported Monday on its front page that Kim sent a wreath to the Liberation Tower in Pyongyang to "commemorate the liberation" of the North by the former Soviet Union.
Russia occupied the northern half of the Korean Peninsula after accepting Japan's surrender in Manchuria in 1945. Moscow also played a central role in suppressing Korean opposition to Kim Il Sung immediately after the war.
According to KCNA Kim's wreath included a message that read, "We will not forget the service of the patriotic martyrs of the Soviet Union." Kim did not attend the memorial on Sunday, however.
The Rodong also said senior North Korean officials visited memorials to fallen North Korean soldiers on the anniversary, referring to North Korean guerrilla fighters who engaged in skirmishes against the Japanese before 1945.
State media said North Korean citizens residing in Pyongyang marked the anniversary by paying homage to Kim Il Sung at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where Kim is encased in a climate-controlled glass coffin, as is his son Kim Jong Il.
North Korea previously highlighted its friendship with Moscow. Last month, Pyongyang commemorated a joint Russia-North Korea declaration signed more than two decades ago.
According to KCNA Sunday, Putin said in a message to Kim that bilateral friendship is a "strong foundation for the development of relations" between the two countries.
"I am confident that we will further promote mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation implementing the agreements reached at the Vladivostok summit in 2019," Putin said in his message, according to North Korean state media.
Kim Jong Un and Putin first met in April 2019 to re-establish ties that had languished under previous leaders.