Kim Jong-un has opened the North Korea’s Workers’ Party congress by praising the country’s nuclear achievements.
Appearing before thousands of delegates, the North Korean leader said: “Unprecedented results have been accomplished.”
This year, North Korea announced its fourth nuclear weapon test and that it sent a rocket into space.
The showpiece congress, the first in 36 years, is a chance for Kim Jong-un to cement his power.
More than 100 foreign journalists were invited but were barred from the April 25 House of Culture, where the party congress is being held.
They were instead taken on a tour round a wire-making factory.
News of Kim Jong-un’s comments came via state television, which showed him on stage speaking to a packed venue.
This is the seventh meeting of the North Korea’s Worker’s Party and it is being closely scrutinized for any signs of political or economic change.
Few details were released before the congress, but it is due to elect a new central committee, which appoints a Politburo – the central decision-making body of the Communist party.
The appointments will be watched carefully.
In 2013, Kim Jong-un had his uncle executed for “acts of treachery” and there have followed many reports of purges of high-profile figures.
Some experts have said that Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong is tipped for promotion.
Pyongyang was spruced up ahead of the event, with North Koreans planting flowers and hanging up huge banners with slogans like “Defend the Headquarters of the Korean Revolution at the Cost of our Lives”.
No congress was held during the rule of Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il. His death in 2011 brought Kim Jong-un to power when he was still in his 20s.
The 1980 congress, held before Kim Jong-un was born, saw Kim Jong-il presented as successor to the North’s founding leader Kim Il-sung.
Despite his death in 1994, Kim Il-sung, who has been named North Korea’s “eternal president”, still officially presides over the latest congress, which is expected to run for several days.
The North Korean Workers’ Party is holding its first congress since 1980.
Analysts believe the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, will cement his status within the party’s structure at this rare political gathering.
The first full congress of the ruling party in 36 years is being closely watched for any shift in policies or changes in political leadership.
Kim Jong-un is expected to reassert his nuclear ambitions, amid speculation he will soon conduct a fifth nuclear test.
Foreign media have been invited but are not allowed inside the venue.
Capital Pyongyang was spruced up ahead of the event and citizens laid flowers in central squares as it got under way.
The streets are lined with National and Workers’ Party flags with banners that read “Great comrades Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il will always be with us” and “Defend the headquarters of the Korean revolution at the cost of the our lives”.
It is the seventh meeting of North Korea’s Worker’s Party and the first since 1980, and is being held inside the April 25 House of Culture, now covered in vast red and gold banners and massive images of the current leader’s father and grandfather.
This year’s event is shrouded in secrecy. About 100 foreign journalists have been invited to the congress and reporters are being closely monitored.
Kim Jong-un is inside the hall with guards lined up outside.
Instead of being allowed into the congress, reporters have instead been taken to on a factory tour.
The agenda and duration of the event is not known but experts say Kim Jong-un is likely to declare his so-called “byongjin” policy, which is the simultaneous push towards economic development and nuclear capability.
It could also see a new generation of leaders put in place.
The meeting will elect a new central committee, which appoints a Politburo – the central decision-making body of the Communist party – and many say loyalists to the current leader will be rewarded with high profile posts.
Who he chooses will be watched carefully. In 2013 Kim Jong-un had his uncle executed for “acts of treachery” and there have followed many reports of purges of high profile figures in the establishment.
Some experts have said that Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong, with whom he attended school in Switzerland, is tipped for promotion.
Many observers will scrutinize announcements carefully to evaluate North Korea’s commitment to a planned economy and hints at reform, but the congress is also being seen as the public stage for Kim Jong-un to define his leadership for the years to come.
No congress was held during the rule of Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il. His death in 2011 brought Kim Jong-un to power when he was still in his twenties.
The 1980 congress, held before Kim Jong-un was born, saw Kim Jong-il presented as successor to the North’s founding leader Kim Il-Sung.
Despite his death in 1994, Kim Il-Sung, who has been named North Korea’s “eternal president”, still officially presides over the latest congress.
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.
North Korea is marking the 70th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party with huge parades in capital Pyongyang.
It is expected to be one of North Korea’s biggest celebrations ever.
A cavalcade of armored vehicles and ballistic missiles rumbled through Pyongyang, accompanied by marching troops.
North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un presided over the ceremony, but no world leaders attended.
Kim Jong-un said that North Korea was ready to fight any war waged by the US.
“The party’s revolutionary armament means we are ready to fight any kind of war waged by the US imperialists,” he said at Pyongyang’s main Kim Il-sung Square.
The celebrations featured thousands of soldiers – many carrying red party flags or banners – in tight square formations goose-stepping to martial music.
Tanks rolled past the podium where Kim Jong-un spoke, with an aircraft flypast forming the number 70.
When it announced plans for the anniversary earlier this year, the government spoke of “cutting-edge” weaponry suitable for modern warfare, and the day’s event will be closely watched for any new military hardware indicating North Korea’s military development.
China, North Korea’s closest ally, sent a senior Communist Party official to the anniversary.
Kim Jong-un began the day by paying respects to his late father and grandfather at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, official media reported.
Officials did not divulge details of the day’s celebrations, although thousands of Pyongyang citizens have been seen in public squares across the city practicing for a torchlight parade to be held in the evening.
A stage has also been set up on a river for a late-night concert featuring the all-female Moranbong Band – North Korea’s most popular musical group.
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