North Korea is famously inscrutable. One approach, though, is simply to listen to when it says something – or puts something in front of you.
Ahead of the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding, the regime has been keeping journalists occupied by taking us on tours around Pyongyang.
In practice, this means waking up early, getting on a coach and being told where you’re going.
But the nature of the sites we’ve been shown (or are scheduled to) is revealing: two factories, a college, a co-operative farm.
The story the regime wants to put across is one of economic development, with a special focus on innovation.
This has been the case ever since North Korea declared its nuclear weapons programme complete and said that it would now focus on growth.
Here we saw that up close, pointed out to us by our government minders.
At a teacher training college, much was made of virtual reality, holograms and artificial intelligence – technological buzzwords that are beloved and held up as proof of fresh thinking here as much as they are in the West.
In the silk factory we visited, worker after worker pointed to the automated machinery installed over the last few years.
Ideology still dies hard, though, even in the bright flame of innovation.
The success of whatever enterprise we visited was invariably attributed to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the workers we spoke to.
Nor does North Korea need the outside world.
When I asked the managing director of the silk factory – visited by three generations of the Kim regime over the years – about the effect of economic sanctions on output he was animatedly dismissive.
Western imperialists had been imposing sanctions since 1945, he said, so North Koreans had learnt self-reliance. “Sanctions? We’re not afraid of sanctions.”
In reality, though, North Korea finds itself treading a difficult path internationally, economically and diplomatically. The two are of course linked.
Although juche, or self-reliance, is a fundamental ideology here, for North Korea’s economy to grow it will need to have better international relations; sanctions will need to be eased.
Hence the flurry of diplomatic activity over the last few days – with a summit confirmed between the North and South Korean leaders, as well as personal compliments paid by Kim and Trump to each other.
Pyongyang is working hard to further its position.
The expected military parade on Sunday neatly sums up some of those difficulties.
It is a celebration, and a big one, important for internal pride and morale.
But to include the launchers associated with the country’s most powerful weapon, nuclear missiles, in that parade would be a diplomatic provocation.
North Korea has always been masterful at managing attention.
In the past, it earned attention quite deliberately through military provocation – from smaller aggressions all the way to testing nuclear weapons and launching intercontinental ballistic missiles.
It used that attention to negotiate monetary concessions.
North Korea has the world’s attention now, especially this weekend.
The fact it’s chosen an economic propaganda message is a clue that this is indeed what the regime now takes most seriously.