North Korea on Saturday evening began what will likely be several days of events marking the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding with a concert in central Pyongyang.
The concert, performed by the Samjiyon Orchestra, State Merited Chorus, and dancers from the Mansudae Art Troupe, lasted over two hours and featured a range of North Korean songs set to a screen displaying images from the country’s history and state media.
The performance’s themes, unlike past similar events, did not feature any mention of the country’s missile and nuclear program, instead focusing almost exclusively on the economy.
Imagery focused heavily on the country’s economic progress and recent history, with marquee projects such as the Wonsan-Kalma resort among them.
Images of former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were greeted with rapturous applause, as was a picture of Kim Jong Un in the opening act.
Security in the lead-up to the event, held at the Pyongyang Gymnasium, was tight.
Foreign press in Pyongyang this week were asked to assemble near the banquet hall at the Yangakdo hotel at 1800 and were asked not to bring cell phones or cigarette lighters.
Journalists then underwent several hours of security checks, only departing for the venue two hours after being initially summoned.
An additional round of security checks was required upon returning from the over two-hour long concert.
Similar arrangements took place last April, when NK News journalists attended a military parade – both events at which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was present.
The tight security led many to assume Saturday’s event would also be attended by Kim, though he ultimately did not make an appearance.
It was, however, attended by other high-ranking government officials, including vice-chairman of the central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Kim Yong Chol, foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, and President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong Nam.
The concert sees the DPRK kick off a round of celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of its founding.
New posters celebrating the upcoming national holiday were visible throughout Pyongyang on Saturday evening, and the city’s Ryugyong Hotel displayed a special lightshow dedicated to the event.
But logistics for Sunday remain shrouded in ambiguity, and many foreign journalists in-country are increasingly expressing frustration with long waits and lack of clarity from authorities.
A military parade is expected to take place on Sunday morning, though as of 0100 local time journalists have not been told when to expect the event to begin.
It also remains unclear when the planned “Glorious Country” mass games will take place.
A VIP itinerary seen by NK News on Saturday, however, suggests that the military parade will take place in the morning, followed by the mass games in the afternoon.
Featured image: NK News
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