North Korea’s Kim holds colourful mass rally to close rare congress

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over a mass rally and parade on Tuesday in the capital’s main ceremonial square, a day after the ruling party wrapped up its first congress in 36 years by elevating him to party chairman. During the four-day congress, North Korea said it would continue to expand its nuclear arsenal, in defiance of United Nations sanctions, but said it would only use them if it was threatened with nuclear weapons. Kim also set a five-year plan to revive isolated North Korea’s creaking economy, although it was short on targets and the party enshrined Kim’s “Byongjin” policy of simultaneous pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic development.

I’m proud to be able to participate in an event like this with our leader here with us.

Yun Song Hua, a 35-year-old medical student at Kim Il Sung University

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. Hundreds of thousands of people chanted the name of their leader, waved pom-poms and sang during the parade. The Pyongyang spectacle also featured floats adorned with patriotic slogans, a military band and marchers waving flags. Kim Jong-Un’s predecessors keep their posthumous titles after his ‘promotion’. His grandfather, North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung is still “eternal president” and his father Kim Jong-Il remains “eternal general secretary”.