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North Korea Holds Massive Rally as Rare Party Congress Ends

  • VOA News

North Koreans wave flower bouquets and balloons as they march during a parade at the Kim Il Sung Square on Tuesday, May 10, 2016.

North Koreans wave flower bouquets and balloons as they march during a parade at the Kim Il Sung Square on Tuesday, May 10, 2016.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over massive parade in the center of Pyongyang Tuesday marking the end of the country's ruling party congress during which he solidified his grip on power.

Hundreds of thousands of brightly-dressed North Koreans marched through the square named for Kim's grandfather, regime founder Kim Il Sung. Others rode floats bearing patriotic slogans as Kim Jong Un watched and waved to the crowd from a viewing balcony high above the square.

The four-day Workers' Party congress -- the country's first in 36 years -- ended Monday after the delegates rubber stamped Kim's "Byongjin" policy of pursuing economic development while simultaneously boosting the North's nuclear arsenal. The congress also bestowed the title of party chairman on the 33-year-old Kim, establishing him as the rightful heir to his grandfather and father, former leader Kim Jong Il.

The congress also named Ri Yong-Gil, North Korea's former military chief, to a number of senior ruling posts -- just months after South Korean intelligence officials said he had been executed on accusations of corruption and other charges.

In Seoul Tuesday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye denounced as "laughable" Kim Jong-Un's declaration during the congress that his country is a nuclear state.

Kim vowed to refrain from using nuclear weapons unless the North's sovereignty is violated.

North Korea invited more than 100 journalists to the country for the congress, but only a handful were allowed to attend the actual meeting.

The carefully choreographed event was marred when BBC television journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and two members of his crew were expelled from North Korea Monday, after the regime accused his crew of issuing false reports about the country. Wingfield-Hayes was detained last Friday after covering a group of Nobel laureates visiting the North.

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