North Korea was expected to convene a session of its parliamentary meeting Wednesday. Observers have said that at the meeting — key since the rare party congress in May — the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, may be given a new state title to further affirm his control over North Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) is organized only once or twice a year. The meeting was announced three weeks ago without any schedule or subject agenda.
“This SPA session is really a follow-up,” an official with South Korea’s Unification Ministry told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “It is expected to follow through with decisions made at the congress, approve personnel and organizational changes and underscore Kim's one-man rule,” the official said.
At May’s party congress, Kim was elected as the chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party, replacing his previous designation of the party’s first secretary. He also unveiled a five-year economic plan during the congress, which was held for the first time in 36 years. Kim had also praised the country’s missile launches and hydrogen bomb tests, saying these increased North Korea’s might to the “highest level possible.”
“With a new state title, the North's current leader will likely cement one-man rule at a similar level to the absolute power enjoyed by his late father and grandfather,” Cheong Seong-chang, a senior researcher at the South Korean think tank Sejong Institute, told Yonhap.
Seoul’s unification ministry reportedly said that in the SPA, Pyongyang is likely to revamp its cabinet and reshuffle government officials in order to support the main decisions made at the congress. The country is also likely to announce further details on the five-year economy plan.
“Kim Jong Un has made all the necessary legal and institutional preparations for prolonging his power, but he still needs to impress the people with tangible economic progress,” Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean studies in Seoul, told AFP.
The meeting comes after North Korea’s fifth and sixth intermediate-range ballistic missiles tests last Wednesday. The United States, South Korea and Japan condemned the latest missile tests and the U.N. Security Council criticized the tests and called for the renewed enforcement of sanctions imposed after the reclusive country’s fourth nuclear test earlier this year.