© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party in Pyongyang
By Josh Smith SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wrapped up a rare congress on Wednesday in a massive indoor art performance, state media said, but did not mention a reported military parade. Kim and other North Korean officials crowded an indoor stadium in Pyongyang to watch performances by art groups and military and civilian youth groups, mainly on topics glorifying Kim’s leadership and reinforcing congressional messages, the news agency reported Thursday. KCNA news. The congress, which took place over eight days in Pyongyang, is the first since 2016 and the second since 1980. The performance was the latest in a series of large gatherings this week in which Kim and the other attendees did not appear to be wearing masks. or use other measures of social distancing, according to images released by state media. North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but has imposed strict border closures, national travel restrictions and other measures to prevent an outbreak. State media have not shown an expected parade. International observers are closely watching these events for signs of new military technology developed by North Korea, which is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. On Wednesday, Kim Yo Jong, the leader’s sister and a member of the party’s Central Committee, criticized the South Korean military for saying it had detected signs of a parade in Pyongyang on Sunday. The move was an expression of the South’s “hostile approach” to the North, it said in a statement released by KCNA. Before the congress, commercial satellite images showed troops rehearsing in formation, and NK News, a website that monitors North Korea, quoted a source as saying it heard heavy vehicles moving in Pyongyang on Sunday.