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North Korea holds parliamentary session for second time this year

As North Korea was to hold the second meeting of its rubber-stamp parliament Thursday, eyes are on what message or policy changes the regime may announce at the event.

North Korea’s state-run media outlets reported that Pyongyang was to hold a plenary meeting of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly, the second such meeting this year, following the first held in April. 

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

According to the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, SPA members paid their respects at statues of former leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il and visited the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery on Taesongsan on Wednesday.

As it is rare for the regime to convene parliamentary sessions twice in a year, speculations are being raised as to whether the North Korean leader would have a special message to the outside world, amid stalled denuclearization negotiations with the United States. Sessions were held twice in a year before only in 2012 and 2014.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it was keeping a close eye on the event as the session would provide a “good opportunity” for Pyongyang to announce its policy directions.

“I think North Korea’s SPA meeting is a good opportunity for it to announce inside and out its policy direction or an evaluation on the businesses it has conducted,” ministry spokesperson Lee Sang-min told a regular briefing on Monday.

The SPA is the highest government body under North Korea’s constitution, and the plenary session is usually held in March or April to deal with budget and cabinet reshuffles.

While the agenda for Thursday’s meeting has not been revealed, possibilities have been raised that it would address issues related to its nuclear weapons, and the relationship with the United States and South Korea.

Pyongyang has strongly denounced the combined military exercises of South Korea and the United States in the past month, firing projectiles on several occasions in protest.

Based on the North’s boasting of developments of new multiple rocket launcher and guided missiles, it may also use the SPA session to present the developments of conventional weapons and reinforce the message to enhance its self-defense capability.

In the previous parliamentary session held on April 11, North Korea replaced and promoted its top state officials and announced an amendment to its constitution.

North Korean leader Kim was reelected as chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and the constitution was revised to stipulate Kim as the official head of state.

Since 2012 after Kim came into office, there have been 10 SPA plenary sessions. Kim attended seven of the sessions. 

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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