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Both Koreas acknowledge armistice anniversary Friday

On the 59th anniversary of the armistice signifying the end of the Korean War, North Korean veterans pledged their support to new leader Kim Jong-un.

A North Korean solider takes pictures as a U.S., center, and South Korean army soldiers stand guard after a ceremony marking the 59th anniversary of the signing of the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War on July 27, 1953, at the border villages of Panmunjom, South Korea, Friday, July 27.

Ahn Young-joon/AP

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Elderly North Korean veterans pledged loyalty to their 20-something leader in Pyongyang during Korean War armistice commemorations Friday, an annual event being closely watched after Kim Jong-un reshuffled the military and revealed he's married.

Over the last two weeks, Kim has taken on the new military title of marshal, and replaced his army chief — once thought to be a key mentor. Both moves were seen as an effort to build loyalty among the million-man armed forces and solidify his credentials as commander.

North Korea also revealed Wednesday that the stylish woman at Kim's side in some public appearances this month is his wife. Images of her walking with Kim arm-in-arm were carefully choreographed to show the new leader as modern, mature and down-to-earth, analysts said, and contrast sharply to his intensely private father, Kim Jong Il, who ruled for 17 years before his death in December.

Kim Jong Un and his wife weren't at Friday's event. Hundreds of aging veterans gathered in a huge auditorium as Choe Ryong Hae, the military's top political officer, stood beneath giant portraits of Kim Jong Il and North Korea founder Kim Il Sung and urged the crowd to "follow the leadership of Marshal Kim Jong Un and win 100 out of 100 battles." North Korea later staged a fireworks display.


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