North Korea Workers Party Holds Its First Congress in 36 Years
North Korea has announced its ruling Workers Party will hold its first congress in 36 years in May.
The North Korean Workers Party congress, which will take place in Pyongyang from May 6, will be only the seventh in the party’s history and the first under leader Kim Jong-un.
The gathering will be closely watched for signs of major policy shifts, movement among senior officials or comment on North Korea’s nuclear program.
The announcement comes as North Korea is believed to be preparing a fifth nuclear test.
North Korea has often timed its controversial tests to coincide with big political occasions.
Its fourth test, in January, was followed by the launch of a satellite.
Both were violations of existing sanctions and resulted in the UN imposing further measures limiting trade and contact with North Korea.
The last North Korean congress was in October 1980, before the current leader Kim Jong-un was born.
The congress lasted four days and among other issues saw Kim Jong-il formally named as the intended successor to then leader Kim Il-sung.
Expectation has been growing for months that the leadership was about to announce the seventh congress.
The statement from North Korea’s KCNA news agency on April 27 gave no details of the event, and did not specify how long it would last.
However, it is widely expected that Kim Jong-un will use the party’s congress to both reinforce his role as Supreme Leader and to push his agenda of economic development coupled with nuclear progress.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on April 26 that North Korea had finished preparations for its fifth nuclear test and could carry it out it any time.
North Korea also claimed last week to have used “cold launch” technology to fire a missile from a submarine, while South Korean officials say it also appears to be preparing another test launch of its medium-range Musudan ballistic missile.