fair.png
Wednesday June 23rd, 2021 5:41PM

N. Korea's biggest political event comes at fraught moment

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has opened the first full congress of its ruling party in five years, with leader Kim Jong Un admitting his previous economic development plans have failed. The congress could be crucial, coming as it does amid what some experts see as the most fraught moment of Kim's nine-year rule.

The Workers' Party congress, which was revived by Kim in 2016 after a 36-year hiatus, began on Tuesday as North Korea, one of the world’s poorest countries, faces what Kim has called “huge challenges and difficulties” brought on by an economy hammered by pandemic-related border closings, a spate of natural disasters and harsh U.S.-led sanctions meant to stop the country from putting the finishing touches on its illicit nuclear-tipped missile program.

The meeting will also be closely watched by, and may be meant to send a message to, President-elect Joe Biden, who will be inaugurated later this month. Biden has called Kim a “thug” and criticized his nuclear summitry with President Donald Trump.

Here are a few things to know about an event last staged in 2016:

___

WHAT IS IT?

The congress is the top decision-making organ of the Workers’ Party.

Kim, the party chairman, determines key day-to-day decisions together with members of his inner circle, but the congress’ responsibilities include the formulation of new policies, reviews of past projects, revisions of party regulations and a reshuffling of officials’ positions.

This year’s congress is the eighth since Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, held the first one in 1945. Kim Il Sung had six congresses before he died in 1994. His son, Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011, never held a congress. Some experts say Kim Jong Il’s “military-first” policy helped undermine the influence of the Workers’ Party during his 17-year rule.

Kim Jong Un revived the congress in 2016 as part of his efforts to increase the party’s authority and cement his grip on power. It was the first congress since 1980, four years before he was born. Kim turns 37 on Friday.

It’s unclear how long this year’s congress will last. The 2016 congress met for four days. In 1980 it was five days, and 12 days in 1970.

___

WHY HOLD IT NOW?

Past party rules required North Korea to hold a congress every five years, but revised guidelines in 2010 don’t specify how often it should be convened. Some experts say Kim needs a big state meeting like this to lay out a new vision for the nation and to strengthen public loyalty at a difficult time in his rule.

North Korea’s yearlong closure of its borders to guard against COVID-19 saw its trade volume plummet with China, its biggest trading partner, by about 80% in the first 11 months of 2020. Typhoons and floods last summer destroyed crops, houses and infrastructure across North Korea. Pyongyang has said that persistent U.S.-led sanctions against its nuclear bomb program are meant to “strangle and stifle” the country.

During a public speech marking the party’s 75th anniversary in October, Kim fought back with tears as he thanked his people for enduring the triple blow to the economy.

“On this planet at present, our country is the only one that is faced with (such) huge challenges and difficulties, like dealing with the anti-epidemic emergency and recovering from the catastrophic natural disasters, when everything is in short supply owing to the harsh and prolonged sanctions,” Kim said.

North Korea, which has a broken medical infrastructure and deep poverty, has taken some of the world’s toughest anti-virus measures, and claims to be coronavirus-free, an assertion widely disputed by foreign experts.

Experts also say that Kim shares a high level of responsibility for the economic woes. Kim has repeatedly told his people that nuclear weapons are a “powerful treasured sword” that are needed because of persistent U.S. hostility. But a string of high-profile weapons tests in past years aimed at acquiring the ability to launch precision nuclear strikes on the American homeland have led to tougher U.S.-led sanctions that experts say are gradually drying up North Korea’s foreign currency reserves.

___

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

During this month’s congress, North Korea has said it will announce new economic developmental goals for the next five years.

State media said Wednesday the congress' gathering is meant to “discuss and decide on a fresh line of struggle and strategic and tactical policies for making a radical leap forward in the development of the party and socialist construction.” An earlier Workers’ Party statement said its previous “goals for improving the national economy have been seriously delayed.”

Some observers say North Korea may be forced to aim for modest objectives from this congress because it must continue to focus on anti-virus. Others says North Korea, which recently completed an 80-day “productivity campaign,” might call for more such campaigns to squeeze its people for increased labor.

During several speeches expected at the congress, Kim will likely repeat his commitment to his nuclear development program but may signal a willingness to engage with the incoming Biden administration and rival South Korea. Kim’s state media, which previously called Biden “a rabid dog,” have remained silent over the next U.S. president’s election victory.

Other possible moves at the congress include Kim getting a new high-profile position, such as “generalissimo,” a title held by his late father and grandfather; his influential sister, Kim Yo Jong, may also be appointed a member of the powerful Politburo in a bid to reinforce the Kim family’s rule, experts say.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
WHO 'disappointed' at Chinese delays letting experts in
The head of the World Health Organization says he is disappointed Chinese officials haven’t finalized the permissions to allow a team of experts into China to examine the origins of COVID-19
10:20PM ( 3 minutes ago )
No charges against Wisconsin officer who shot Jacob Blake
A Wisconsin prosecutor has declined to file criminal charges against a white police officer who shot a Black man in the back last summer
10:12PM ( 11 minutes ago )
GEORGIA TAKEAWAYS: Trump's long shadow not fading yet
Ballots are still being counted in the Georgia runoffs that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and the scope of President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda
10:09PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Reports: Dozens of Hong Kong pro-democracy figures arrested
An opposition party and local media say about 50 Hong Kong pro-democracy figures have been arrested by police under the new national security law
9:44PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Georgia counting votes in runoffs that decide Senate control
Georgia officials have begun counting the final votes of the nation’s turbulent 2020 election season as polls closed in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
9:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP VoteCast: GOP voters in Georgia back Trump's false claims
About three-quarters of voters who backed Republican candidates in Georgia’s Senate runoffs say President-elect Joe Biden was not legitimately elected in November
8:45PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Dividing party, Republicans poised to challenge Biden win
Republicans mounting an unprecedented attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s election win are setting up a congressional showdown
6:20PM ( 4 hours ago )
Georgia deciding US Senate control in election's final day
Georgians are casting their ballots in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
6:01PM ( 4 hours ago )
Grammy Awards shift to March due to pandemic conditions
The 2021 Grammy Awards will no longer take place this month in Los Angeles and will broadcast in March due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases and deaths
5:43PM ( 4 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Kim opens North Korean congress by admitting policy failures
Leader Kim Jong Un has opened North Korea's first ruling party congress in five years with an admission of policy failures and a vow to set new developmental goals
9:30PM ( 53 minutes ago )
The Latest: China's Hebei toughens virus rules over outbreak
China’s Hebei province is enforcing stricter control measures following a further rise in coronavirus cases in the province, which is adjacent to the capital Beijing and is due to host events for next year’s Winter Olympics
9:19PM ( 1 hour ago )
N. Korea's Kim opens congress with policy failures admission
Leader Kim Jong Un has opened North Korea's first ruling party congress in five years with an admission of policy failures and a vow to set new developmental goals
8:23PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Trump widens US ban on Chinese apps as his term nears end
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese apps including Alipay and WeChat Pay in an escalation of a trade war he has been waging through most of his term
9:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
Regulators get plan for undoing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
The developers of the now-canceled Atlantic Coast Pipeline are laying out plans for how they want to go about unwinding their work and restoring disturbed land
6:37PM ( 3 hours ago )
Late sales rebound helps US automakers avoid 2020 disaster
U.S. new-vehicle sales fell 14.6% last year, but a second-half rebound from a springtime plunge kindled optimism for recovery later this year
6:18PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business
US stocks recoup some losses after sharp slide to start 2021
U.S. stocks are closing higher Tuesday, regaining their footing a day after suffering their worst loss in months amid the worsening pandemic and potentially market-moving Senate elections
4:15PM ( 6 hours ago )
World Bank sees subdued recovery in 2021 and plenty of risk
The World Bank on Tuesday forecast that the global economy will see a subdued recovery this year from a devastating pandemic but warned that the near-term outlook is highly uncertain and growth could be harmed if infections keep rising and the rollout of vaccines is delayed
12:42PM ( 9 hours ago )
India says it hasn't banned the export of COVID-19 vaccines
India's health ministry says the government hasn't banned the export of COVID-19 vaccines
11:40AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
No charges against Wisconsin officer who shot Jacob Blake
A Wisconsin prosecutor has declined to file criminal charges against a white police officer who shot a Black man in the back last summer
10:12PM ( 11 minutes ago )
GEORGIA TAKEAWAYS: Trump's long shadow not fading yet
Ballots are still being counted in the Georgia runoffs that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and the scope of President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda
10:09PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Georgia tallies votes as US Senate control hangs in balance
Georgia officials have begun counting the final votes of the nation’s turbulent 2020 election season as polls closed in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
10:02PM ( 20 minutes ago )
North Korea holds its biggest political event amid crises
North Korea has opened its biggest political event in five years amid what some experts see as the most fraught moment of leader Kim Jong Un’s nine-year rule
9:57PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Alabama's Smith becomes 1st WR to win Heisman in 29 years
DeVonta Smith of Alabama is the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy in 29 seasons
9:49PM ( 33 minutes ago )