Mass rally in North Korea after congress bolsters leader
After a ruling-party congress in which leader Kim Jong Un enshrined his hold on power and his commitment to developing nuclear weapons, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans celebrated with a massive civilian parade yesterday featuring floats bearing patriotic slogans and marchers with flags and pompoms.
Kim presided over the parade and waved down to the crowd from his 'tribune of honour' on a balcony of the Grand People's Study House, which overlooks the square. North Koreans had been practising roles in the parade and other events for weeks, and participation is considered mandatory.
"We had been practising every other day for this event," said Yun Song Hua, a 25-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 5:30 a.m., to go through strict security screening. They had to surrender all telephones and communication devices, which is typical whenever foreign media cover an event where Kim Jong Un is present.