North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, condemned American “aggressors” as cannibals on Tuesday, as his government orchestrated a huge outdoor rally in Pyongyang to protest an American-supported move at the United Nations to refer the North’s leaders to an international court for human rights abuses.
Mr. Kim ordered his government to step up anti-American ideological education as he visited the Sinchon Museum, which commemorates mass killings of civilians around the town of Sinchon, south of Pyongyang, during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
“The massacres committed by the U.S. imperialist aggressors in Sinchon evidently showed that they are cannibals and homicides seeking pleasure in slaughter,” Mr. Kim was quoted as saying by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
Mr. Kim’s symbolic visit to the museum, an important anti-American propaganda site, came as his country protested a United Nations resolution urging the Security Council to indict Mr. Kim at the International Criminal Court for human rights abuses. The United Nations General Assembly is to vote on the resolution in the coming weeks. North Korea called the move a grave “political provocation” and threatened a nuclear test.
On Tuesday, tens of thousands of people pumping their clenched fists rallied in central Pyongyang to condemn the United States for sponsoring the move at the United Nations. North Korea organizes such gatherings both to show its political resolve to its external foes and to consolidate internal unity.
“The U.S. imperialists should bear in mind that we have the option to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike,” Sa Ryong-nam, a North Korean general, said in a speech during the rally, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, which monitored a North Korean TV broadcast of the event.
North Korea blames the United States and its “blood-hungry running dogs” for killing as many as 35,000 people in Sinchon. The museum contains paintings of American soldiers torturing Koreans, carving out their breasts or burning them at the stake. Schoolchildren are routinely paraded through the museum.
Historians say that anti-Communist militias did most of the killings in Sinchon. They say that Communist vigilantes and troops also conducted wholesale executions of Christians and people considered collaborators with South Korea, which the North’s propaganda does not mention.