All eyes on North Korea as national Congress opens behind closed doors

Pictures of former North Korean leaders decorate the venue where the Congress is due to take place Credit: Reuters/Damir Sagolj

We were told to be at our buses by 8am, the Congress was starting at 9am.

After 45 mins of milling around, nobody seemingly sure of the plan, we all finally got seated into our allocated buses and in a convoy of at least 15 vans and buses. The assembled international media pack taken on a drive around the city which eventually resulted in us parking and walking down to where the Congress was taking place.

None of us would be getting in as had been rumoured by some earlier, instead we were to film from a few hundred metres away across an intersection.

I tried to find out what was happening, was Kim Jong Un going to address the opening of the Congress? What was on the agenda for the first day? How long would it last? All of those were met with the same response from Ministry of Information officials "We don't know."

I was told all would be revealed on this evening's 8pm Korean State Television News broadcast.

An army truck filled with soldiers passes the Congress venue Credit: ITV News

So, not quite the fanfare we had anticipated, no sign of the mass parades and celebrations we've seen being rehearsed. Those, we are told may be happen another day. Which day? "We don't know."

While filming the exteriors of the Congress Hall, the 4.25 Building, built to commemorate the founding of the Korean Army, we do get a chance to speak to some people on the street about the great gathering.

Grandfather Kim Song Ho tells us that he knows Kim Jong Un is creating a society in which his grandson Kim Se Jong, aged two, will flourish.

Doctor Kim Ok Ju tells us she trusts Kim Jong Un explicitly. I ask her what she thinks of his nuclear weapons programme and she says he will defend the country against its international enemies.

One young student who effuses about the power of Kim Jong Un says that the Congress is an opportunity to show off their leaders greatness to the world. "A slap in the face of America," he says.

There may not be the sense of occasion in Pyongyang that we were led to believe the Congress would generate, well not so far anyway, but in the people, ever present is an undivided loyalty to their leader.