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Behind The Pageantry: The Real North Korea47:19
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For the first time in 36 years, North Korea’s ruling political elite gather in Pyongyang for the Workers’ Party Congress. We’ll take you there.

The portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il hang inside the convention hall of the April 25 House of Culture where the party congress is held in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, May 9, 2016. North Korea’s ruling-party congress on Monday announced a new title for Kim Jong Un, center, party chairman, in a move that highlights how the authoritarian country’s first congress in 36 years is aimed at bolstering the young leader. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
The portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il hang inside the convention hall of the April 25 House of Culture where the party congress is held in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, May 9, 2016. North Korea’s ruling-party congress on Monday announced a new title for Kim Jong Un, center, party chairman, in a move that highlights how the authoritarian country’s first congress in 36 years is aimed at bolstering the young leader. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

North Korea does not open its doors often. And when it does, it does not open them very far. But right now, there is a big crew of foreign reporters in North Korea for a big, rare Communist Party congress. More reporting power focused on the country than we’ve seen in a long time.  What do they see? We’ll get the latest from Pyongyang this hour. On the secretive, bellicose, nuclear-armed country that keeps firing its missiles further and further. This hour On Point: inside North Korea.
-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Anna Fifield, Tokoyo bureau chief for the Washington Post, focusing on Japan and the Koreas. (@annafifield)

John Delury, Chair of Global Studies at Yonsei University in Seoul, where he focuses on modern Chinese history and the Koreas. (@JohnDelury)

Katharine Moon, senior fellow and Korea Chair at the Brookings Center for East Asia Policy Studies. Chair of Asian Studies and professor of political science at Wellesley College. (@KathyHSMoon)

From Tom's Reading List

North Korea announces five-year economic plan, its first since the 1980s — Kim said North Korea would not use its nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty was violated, a familiar refrain from Pyongyang, which presents its nuclear and missile program as necessary for self-defense. Kim has lauded North Korea’s advances in nuclear technology, as South Korean officials continue to warn that a fifth test could be imminent. The surprisingly full remarks from Kim were reported on North Korea’s state television and in the official media Sunday. Foreign journalists allowed to travel to Pyongyang for the congress have not been given any access to the forum, apart from being taken to a street corner across from the venue. (Washington Post)

North Korea leader hails nuclear and missile advances as rare party congress opens — "The congress — the first one held since 1980, three years before Kim was born — essentially amounts to an extravagant, state-choreographed spectacle built around Kim's leadership. The message was clear with each round of rapturous applause for the 33-year-old leader: a display of loyalty and bolstered legitimacy for his rule even as North Korea’s defiant policies bring further isolation and pressures. (Washington Post)

Kim Jong Un, hailing hydrogen bomb test and satellite launch, predicts 'final victory — "The congress, which gathers delegates from across the country and is the highest-level gathering in North Korea’s political system, is apparently intended to highlight national unity and stability under Kim, who came to power in late 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. The entire country was mobilized to “speed up production” for 70 days leading up to the congress, and the North’s state-controlled media were full of breathless reports about allegedly miraculous accomplishments at cement plants and coal mines, as well as the construction of a new power plant." (Los Angeles Times)

This program aired on May 9, 2016.

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