In January, the North Korean regime hosted the Eighth Party Congress, the first such event it held in five years. At the event is believed to have attracted about 7,000 people, both inviting more people and lasting for a longer duration than has been typical of such conferences in the past.
“The strategy for economic development is inward-oriented, the role of the state is to be strengthened, no new reforms are planned, and no major political purge took place,” a 38 North report said of the event. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly spoke for a total of nine hours, much longer than he had at the previous party Congress.
Now, another new report has revealed some detail about the swag that was handed out to high-level attendees of the Party Congress.
Daily NK reported this week that “top-ranking cadres” who attended the Party Congress received such party favors as watches engraved with Kim Jong-un’s name—known as “name watches”—as well as televisions.
The watches, which are treated in North Korea as the equivalent of medals, were often handed out by Kim’s father and grandfather during their time heading the North Korean government.
As for the TVs, they came from the Kumgangsan brand, which appears to be named after a North Korean mountain range.
“Top cadres were given ‘Kumgangsan’ LED TVs engraved with the words, ‘A gift from Kim Jong Un, Secretary General of the Workers’ Party of Korea’,” Daily NK’s source said. “This is the first time they’ve given out Kumgangsan-brand [televisions].”
The Kumgangsan brand hadn’t ever been mentioned in any media before now, and it’s possible, per the report, that it was created as a souvenir for the Congress. The source added that the Taedonggang TV Factory went into “full operation” in order to produce the televisions.
Attendees at the last Party Congress received 45-inch “Arirang” TVs, which were larger than the ones distributed this year.
“In North Korea, TV sizes are usually odd numbers like 15, 17, 19 and 25,” the report’s source said. “The reason they presented a TV with an even-number size is so [recipients] can’t sell them in the market.”
A Daily NK report last spring said that a new LED TV called the Hc, also produced at the Taedonggang TV Factory, was “all the rage” in North Korea at the time.
“The television has slots to plug in both SD cards and USBs and it can be carried around easily once you remove the stand, so a lot of people are trying to buy it,” the April report said.
While top-ranking attendees got the gifts, “general participants” in the conference received nothing, the report said.
Also at the Party Congress, Kim reportedly announced plans for North Korea to expand its use of drones.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver. Image: Reuters.