Approximately 130 foreign journalists were reporting from Pyongyang on Thursday, one day before the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the first such event in 36 years.
The Party Congress, the largest type of political event in the country, will start on Friday at 9 a.m. Pyongyang time, at the 4.25 House of Culture. Journalists are visiting places around the capital, such as the model farm, a daycare center, department stores and revolutionary sites.
Korea Central TV reported on Wednesday evening that well-dressed party officials and representatives from each province are visiting the nation’s commemorative facilities in the city with bouquets.
Anna Fifield, Tokyo bureau chief for the Washington Post, said the city appears to be functioning well despite the international sanctions.
“The electricity is really good. Foreign residents say the supply has been good throughout the 70-day campaign. Lots of lights on throughout the city,” Fifield told NK News via Twitter.
Five liter bottles of soju (Korean firewater) on sale at the Kwangbok department store in Pyongyang. Price? $2.60 pic.twitter.com/zsVGzoYYd8
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) May 4, 2016
State media outlets have each day claimed significant increases in output from a host of sectors, including coal and lumber production, farming, fishing, and construction.
“People say the 70-day campaign has had more of an impact than sanctions,” Fifield said.
North Korea previously told foreign journalists to arrive in Pyongyang between May 3-5 to report on the Congress and leave a week later. They are staying at the Yanggakdo Hotel, where they can watch Al-Jazeera English and CCTV (China Central Television).
Meanwhile, another team of journalists are traveling with three Nobel laureates, mainly visiting universities in Pyongyang from May 2-6.
North Korean official media are not reporting about their visit for reasons that have not been made clear, but the BBC captured uncomfortable interactions between the laureates and the North Korean students and Kim Il Sung University staff.
These include one of Richard J. Roberts, Nobel Prize winner in medicine in 1993, putting a student and his supervisor on the spot about students’ lack of internet access.
“For them to pretend that they really do have free access is silly,” Roberts told BBC journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes.
While North Korea has not clarified the exact schedule of events for the Party Congress, the South Korean government said it is likely to continue for three or four days, possibly accompanied by another nuclear test.
According to a South Korean government source, on Friday central members of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) will report and discuss the results of the party’s main projects, and will adopt a statement regarding revision of the party’s regulations on Saturday.
North Korean watchers have speculated that Kim Jong Un will bolster his authority through emphasis on his contributions during the event.
There will be some public events including a rally, possibly at Kim Il Sung Square and Kim Il Sung Stadium.
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