North Korea said on Wednesday its ruling Workers’ Party would hold a congress beginning May 6, ending its silence on the date of the first such conference in 36 years.
North Korea’s last party congress was in 1980, before current leader Kim Jong Un was born. Kim, the third member of his family to lead the country, is believed to be 33.
The last Workers’ Party congress was held under the rule of Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, the state founder. Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, who died in December 2011, never held a party congress.
Kim Jong Un is expected to use the congress to cement his leadership and to formally adopt his policy, known as “byongjin”, to push simultaneously for economic development and nuclear weapons capability. Byongjin follows Kim’s father’s Songun, or “military first”, policy and his grandfather’s Juche, the North’s home-grown founding ideology that combines Marxism and extreme nationalism.
The party congress, first announced in October, will be closely watched for any new policies and for how the country will present its pursuit of nuclear-weapon capability. South Korea and others are nervously watching the North’s defiance of UN resolutions aimed at curbing its nuclear and ballistic missile technologies, expect another test within days.
South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said South Korea expected the North’s party congress to last four or five days.