North Korea is currently planning an event involving soldiers and civilians in the capital Pyongyang to glorify the Eighth Party Congress in January, Daily NK has learned. Soldiers have already begun rehearsing for the event, while Pyongyang residents and university students will reportedly begin rehearsing from the middle of December.

A source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on Wednesday that the Central Committee has issued a notice calling for preparations for an event that will make the Eighth Party Congress “a historical event that will live long in the history of the Fatherland.” Accordingly, the party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department is currently preparing a “joint military-civilian celebratory event for the Eighth Party Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea.”

According to the source, North Korean authorities are planning medium-scale military parades, civilian parades and various evening parties and balls. The event, to take place around the time of the party congress, is directed domestically to promote internal unity.

Soldiers marching during the Party Foundation Day military parade on Oct. 10. / Image: KCNA

For the military parade, authorities will mobilize the soldiers from Pyongyang-based military units and the students from military universities and academies who participated in the parade for Party Foundation Day on Oct. 10. Likewise, for the civilian parade, authorities will mobilize the personnel recommended from various organizations, workers and university students who participated in October’s civilian parade.

Event preparation has reportedly been entrusted to each relevant organization under the direction of Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, and Yom Jong Kun, the vice director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department’s events department.

In fact, according to the source, preparations for the military parade are being supervised by a “military parade task force” (under the operations training division of the General Staff Operations Bureau), while preparations for the “downtown event” are being supervised by a task force created for the party congress and Pyongyang’s party committee. The source said the military parade task force, which also handled preparations for the Party Foundation Day parade, was kept together even after the conclusion of that event.

The soldiers mobilized for the event are currently lodging at the April 25 Hotel in Pyongyang while rehearsing twice a day, for four hours at a time. They spend the remaining time maintaining their weapons and equipment. The source said that since these soldiers had already trained for months for the Party Foundation Day parade, they are now focused on adjusting to the flow of the upcoming event.

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Kim Jong Un at the leadership podium during the Party Foundation Day military parade in Pyongyang on Oct. 10, 2020. / Image: KCNA

The source said the soldiers preparing for the parade “consider participation to be an honor,” and they are “vigorously” carrying out their order from above to “maintain your weapons and combat technology hardware as if they were your own [eye] pupils to ensure that the event for the Eighth Party Congress goes smoothly.”

On the other hand, Pyongyang residents and university students have yet to begin rehearsing and are currently “on standby.” However, they will reportedly begin full-scale rehearsals from Dec. 18 at empty spaces in each district of the city.

University students are apparently complaining that they do not know whether they are students or event assistants. They are hardly making headway in their studies with classes being taught through home visits due to COVID-19, and now they must start rehearsing for another event, the source said. 

Meanwhile, North Korean authorities are reportedly stressing that participants follow strict quarantine procedures such as wearing masks during rehearsals. Participants are apparently not expected to wear masks on the day of the event, as was the case on Party Foundation Day, but they are required to wear masks throughout the rehearsal period.

Those involved in the rehearsals have their temperature checked five times a day, and they have been organized into teams of three to watch one another and quickly report symptoms such as coughs to the event task force.

The source added that North Korean authorities have ordered Pyongyang’s transportation company to provide chartered busing for personnel rehearsing for the event so that buses do not fill up with people at rush hour.

“[The authorities] are clamoring about how the most important thing is to avoid complacency and laxity in quarantine efforts,” said the source. 

Prior to training, participants from each organization are receiving ideological training where they learn two things: The first is that they must “take pride in participating in the Eighth Party Congress event and make sure it is a success by ‘ideologically’ overcoming the cold.” The second is that during rehearsals, “you must take good care of your own health and comply with quarantine regulations. No stragglers.”

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