Kim Jong-un makes rare public appearance in front of international media
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reacts as he arrives for the opening ceremony of the Cemetery of Fallen Fighters of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in Pyongyang - Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has made a rare public appearance before the western media as the country is gearing up to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.

The leader of the reclusive nation made an unannounced appearance in Pyongyang during an event to commemorate the opening of a new war cemetery.

North Korea has invited the international media in the run-up to a huge military parade which will culminate in the anniversary celebrations.

The armistice agreement signed on 27 July, 1953, after a three-year war, has been celebrated as Victory Day in North Korea to mark the so-called Fatherland Liberation War.

A Sky News team, which is part of the foreign delegation, reported that they have been granted "unusual access" to the country. Security was beefed up ahead of Kim's visit in the area.

The delegation is said to be constantly under the watchful eyes of state-appointed minders often dubbed as guides.

Kim was accompanied by senior army and political figures in North Korea including his aunt Kim Kyong-hui. Kyong-hui, who is widely believed to have a strong hand in the North Korean administration, was speculated to be critically ill.

"She has out of the public eye for such a long time that there has been an abundance of intelligence reports on her health. She must have been really unwell to have missed the 19th anniversary of the death of her father [Kim II-Sung]," a South Korean government official familiar with the matter told the Chosun Ilbo.

Several Chinese officials were also present at the ceremony, it has been reported. But it is unclear whether Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao who held talks with Kim was also present.

The top Chinese official is believed to have insisted on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Chinese forces fought on behalf of North Korea during the Korean War against South Korea and the US leading to a stalemate.