SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea has awarded late leader Kim Jong-Il a new medal, state media said, as Pyongyang gears up to mark 60 years since the Korean War ended.
The presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, or parliament, passed the order on Kim -- who died of a heart attack in December 2011 -- on June 10, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.
"Kim Jong-Il was... peerless patriot who smashed the imperialist reactionaries' moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK (North Korea) with the might of Songun (military-first)" policy, the agency said without giving a name for the medal.
The policy of military first provides "a powerful treasured sword for defending the country and waging the anti-imperialist, anti-US struggle," KCNA added, saying the medal was created in April.
Kim, who was replaced by his youngest son Kim Jong-Un, has received a number of the North's highest medals and titles including the "Order of Kim Il-Sung", "Hero of the Republic" and "Great Generalissimo".
Saturday's announcement comes a week before North Korea commemorates the 60th anniversary on July 27 of the signing of a ceasefire that brought to an end the Korean War.
The communist state has stepped up preparations for the date, which across the country will include a military parade, mass open-air performances, art exhibitions, sporting events and fireworks.
North Korea claims it won the war, which began in 1950, even although the armistice left the frontier roughly where it had been at the start of the conflict.
Satellite images have revealed more than 10,000 North Korean soldiers practising for a parade, Seoul's Yonhap news agency has reported.
It quoted a South Korean military source as saying mobile launchers equipped with short and mid-range missiles were seen.
Seoul will be paying attention to whether the North will parade new long-range missiles.
The Arirang Mass Games is due to run every day, except Sundays and Tuesdays, from July 22 to September 9, according to tour agencies specialising in trips to the isolated North.
It will take place at the 150,000-seat Rungrado Stadium in Pyongyang.
In 2007, the games were recognised by Guinness World Records as the biggest event of its kind, and are famed for its huge mosaic pictures of coloured cards and highly choreographed group routines by tens of thousands of gymnasts and dancers.