Congress closes with parade for North Korea’s Kim Jong Un

May 11, 2016 7:00 am

Rehearsed celebrations bring curtain down on event to consolidate Kim’s Korean rule.


Parade participants said they had been practising their parts for weeks. Picture / AP
After a ruling-party congress in which leader enshrined his hold on power and his commitment to developing nuclear weapons, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans celebrated with a huge civilian parade yesterday featuring floats bearing patriotic slogans and marchers with flags and pompoms.
Kim presided over the parade and waved to the crowd. North Koreans had been practising roles in the parade and other events for weeks, and participation is mandatory.
“We had been practising every other day for this event,” said Yun Song Hua, a 35-year-old medical student at Kim Il Sung University.
“I’m proud to be able to participate in an event like this with our leader here with us.”
The two-hour parade started off with a 30-minute speech by Kim Yong Nam, the head of North ’s Parliament and nominal head of state.
Foreign journalists in Pyongyang for the congress had to gather hours earlier, at 5.30am, to go through strict security screening.

The four-day congress was the authoritarian country’s first since 1980, before Kim was even born. The rubberstamp body of more than 3400 delegates endorsed his nuclear and economic policies, promoted his favoured officials and gave him a new title of party chairman.They had to surrender all telephones and communication devices, which is typical whenever Kim Jong Un is at an event with media allowed to see.
Kim told delegates that the North would not use its nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is threatened and hinted that he was willing to work with countries that had previously been hostile toward the North if they are willing to work with him.
By calling a congress – something his father, Kim Jong Il, never did – Kim demonstrated what may be a leadership style more like that of his charismatic grandfather, national founder Kim Il Sung.
Kim Il Sung worked through party organs more than Kim Jong Il, who preferred using his own network of trusted individuals to get things done.

Back … but not from the dead

A former North Korean military chief who Seoul had said was executed is actually alive and in possession of several new senior-level posts, the North’s state media said yesterday.
The on Ri Yong Gil marks yet another blunder for South Korean intelligence officials, who have often gotten information wrong in tracking developments with their rival.

Ri, who was considered one of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s most trusted aides, missed two key national meetings in February. Seoul intelligence officials later said that Kim had him executed for corruption and other charges.
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