Inside North Korea

38 Photos

Over 100 foreign journalists gathered in Pyongyang, North Korea to cover the seventh congress of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party – the first since 1980.The North Korean government assigns minders to reporters and keep a close watch on their every move. But still, photos from this historic occasion provide a rare peek into the texture of daily life in the Communist country.

According to AP, ahead of the ongoing congress of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, the nation was called upon to do massive overtime to boost production and show their devotion to leader Kim Jong Un in a 70-day “loyalty campaign.” And that’s in addition to the hour after hour of rehearsals for huge rallies when their ruling party wraps up its first congress in decades. (So how does a tired North Korean unwind? Beer. Beer. And more beer.)

However, as the LA Times reports, once the congress began Friday, journalists were kept out of the venue — and instead bused to a wire-making factory to get a taste of the latest in North Korean manufacturing. According to Julie Makinen, “Guides said the Pyongyang 326 Electric Cable Factory produced copper and aluminum wires and had 1,000 employees, though only perhaps 100 appeared to be on duty as the throng of reporters toured the spotless facility.

Much of the technology appeared to be extremely dated, and though employees boasted that all of the machines were North Korean made, some were clearly produced abroad, by companies such as Nokia. Officials touted the benefits for the workers, including a perfectly manicured soccer field in front of the factory, and a recreation center that included a spa, barbershop, ping-pong hall, restaurants and mini-mart. A motto out front read: “Go forward to the final victory following the great leader Kim Jong Un!”