Thousands parade in front of leader
After leader Kim Jong Un enshrined his hold on power and commitment to developing nuclear weapons at the ruling party congress, thousands of North Koreans celebrated with a massive civilian parade featuring floats bearing patriotic slogans and marchers with flags. Ruler Kim presided over the parade and waved to the crowd.
“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 Korea’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. 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.
By calling the four-day 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.
Victor Cha, an expert on North Korea at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies who served as a top White House official on Asia policy under President George W Bush, said that a primary goal for the congress was to anoint Kim Jong Un as leader “for the next 50 years” by naming him as party chairman.
“They are doing everything to make him look like this grandfather in every way possible with the glasses and the haircut. I think they are trying to symbolise that when his grandfather was leader, those were better days for North Korea,” Cha said. “It's like they are trying to equate North Korea’s future with the past.”
PATRIOTIC: North Koreans during the parade in front of leader Kim Jong Un