LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
One of those reporters was NPR's Louisa Lim who has this report from the capital, Pyongyang.
LOUISA LIM: In the backstreets, kids were playing basketball. Today is a holiday, marking the 65th anniversary of the Worker's Party. One young man, who gave his name as Kim, described how happy he was to see Kim Jong Un.
KIM: I think he's good, and he'll lead our country to a glorious future.
LIM: Since arriving, this trip has been devoted to politics and pageantry. After the massive military parade, we were taken to an evening gala, with fireworks, music and thousands of dancers. Our guide, Kim So Hye, said it was unprecedented.
(SOUNDBITE OF FIREWORKS)
KIM SO HYE: This is something that we didn't have before.
LIM: Why is it different from normal one?
SO HYE: The size, obviously, is different, and the artistic level is somehow different. And this is actually a very special occasion.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
LIM: Every part of the program has a political message. Most of it is reinforcing the history of the nation, and the legitimacy of the Kim family to rule.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SONG CHAOL: They're crying.
LIM: They're crying? Why are they crying?
CHAOL: They're crying because (unintelligible) Kim Jong Il.
LIM: That's Song Chaol. This is the side of North Korea we were brought in to see: these extraordinary mass performances. These are displays of unity and devotion, which serve to keep thousands busy for months. This is a regime obsessed with stage-managing its image to the outside world, and to its own populace. That's why the relative freedom we were given seemed surprising.
LIM: Can I just record two minutes of the concert? Is that Okay?
CHAOL: No. No. No.
LIM: Louisa Lim, NPR News, Pyongyang.
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