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Korean Workers' Party - 7th Party Congress

The seventh congress of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea(WKP) was a gathering for Kim Jong-un to solidify his monolithic leadership system. The party congress failed to present new strategies and visions. As for Kim being named the "Chairman of the WPK,” the party gave that title to Kim's grandfather and North Korean founder Kim Il-sung after it had formed a unified central committee of the Workers' Parties of the North and the South in 1949. Kim’s latest position appeared to have reinterpreted his grandfather’s post and was not a newly established one.

North Korea wrapped up its seventh Workers’ Party of Korea Congress with a massive parade and a mass rally, which started at 10:25 am Tuesday 10 May 2016 at the Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang. Thousands of North Koreans cheered and applauded when their leader Kim Jong-un appeared at a podium at the square. Kim was flanked by top military and political leaders including, newly elected WPK standing committee members, Kim Yong-nam, Hwang Pyong-so, Choe Ryong-hae and Pak Pong-ju.

The party finished its four-day congress on 09 May 2016, naming Kim Jong-un to the newly created post of Chairman of the ruling Workers' Party. The President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly Kim Yong Nam made the announcement. Kim Jong Un's assumption of the post was seen as the North Korean leadership's attempt to demonstrate that it attaches priority to the Party as his grandfather Kim Il Sung did.

The party now has five standing members of the Workers' Party of Korea. North Korea's Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju and the Workers' Party Secretary Choe Ryong Hae were newly elected as members of the Politburo Standing Committee. The post of politburo standing committee member is already held by Kim Jong Un, Kim Yong Nam and the chief of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army, Hwang Pyong So. Party secretary Choe Ryong-hae recently made a solid comeback after vanishing from the public eye. Pak Pong-ju is the North Korean premier.

North Korea revealed the names of the members of the Central Committee of its ruling Workers’ Party of Korea through the party’s seventh congress. Compared to the party’s representatives meeting held in September 2010, the number of the Central Committee members grew by four to 128 and the number of alternate members grew by one to 106. The most noticeable aspect about the list was that Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of leader Kim Jong-un, was included for the first time. Though the leader’s sister was not promoted to be a member or alternate member of the Political Bureau or head of a party department, the fact that she became a member of the Central Committee shows that she will play an important role.

Kim Jong-un said that his country would not use nuclear weapons first unless its sovereignty is violated. Kim made the remark in an address to the party congress, which opened on 06 May 2016. Kim reportedly vowed that the North would faithfully fulfill its non-proliferation obligations and push for global denuclearization.

"As a responsible nuclear weapons state, our republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces with nukes," the Korean Central News Agency report quoted Kim as saying. In March 2016, North Korea threatened a "preemptive" and "indiscriminate" nuclear strike on the U.S. and South Korea in response to the two nations' joint military drills.

He said that the goal of the ruling party is to strive for a peaceful world without war, adding that North Korea and the party have held a consistent position that will work to ensure regional and global peace and security. Regarding inter-Korean relations, Kim said that the party is determined to realize self-reliant unification.

Kim described his five-year plan to simultaneously develop nuclear weapons and boost the country's economy. Analysts say the plan, published Sunday in the North's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, is doomed for failure because of the heavy international sanctions North Korea will face for developing its nuclear program.

South Korea’s presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae downplayed Kim’s vow to strive for the denuclearization of the world, dismissing it as empty rhetoric. They said that in the statement, Kim displayed no intent to denuclearize his own country./p>

The 7th Workers' Party congress was expected to run for three to four days, with Kim likely to formalize his leadership and solidify his "byungjin" policy of simultaneous nuclear and economic development. The party is also forecast to extol the accomplishments of the Kim dynasty: the regime's founder Kim Il-sung, his son Kim Jong-il and his grandson -- the current leader, Kim Jong-un.

The highlight of the event was expected to be on the last day, when new, younger aides to Kim Jong-un will be elected and Kim will be given the party's highest post. Korea Central News Agency reported that Saturday’s itinerary includes electing Kim to a new position that will likely put him on an equivalent level with his father and grandfather, who held the title of general-secretary of the Workers’ Party. Kim currently held the title of first secretary, and while symbolic, the elevated title is another clear signal to the world that Kim had a firm grasp on power within the country.

North Korea reviewed the workings of the party's Central Committee on the second day of the once-in-a-generation congress. North Korea kicked off its seventh Workers' Party congress in nearly four decades under the watchful eye of Kim Jong-un… Kim Jong-un entering the congress hall amid applause from some three thousand representatives. He kicked off the party event on the same spot where his grandfather Kim Il-sung had stood 36 years ago. In the opening remarks, Kim touted the success of the North's nuclear tests and long-range missile launches in spite of global sanctions.

He declared the opening of the congress saying the congress will mark a historical new milestone in the struggle towards completion of socialist achievements. Throughout the speech, Kim read from white paper held in his hand. Seen on the podium was parliamentary leader Kim Yong-nam and Hwang Pyong-so, director of the North Korean military's General Political Bureau. On the reports of the Workers' Party's projects, Kim stressed that the party was invincible, and proposed strategic platforms and tasks for socialist prosperity.

Workers' Party members who contributed heavily to North Korea's recent nuclear test and long-range missile launch were given positions on the party's 7th Committee. Park To-chun, a former party secretary in charge of handling the North's missile and nuclear development, Ju Kyu-chang, a former director of the party's relevant department and Jo Chun-ryong, Chairman of the Second Economy Commission were among of those bestowed positions on the committee, giving them much more power and influence. The three played key roles in the regime's nuclear weapons development, and were targeted by UN sanctions. Their promotions are seen as rewards for this year's nuclear test and long-range missile launch, which Kim Jong-un indentified as the major successes of his reign as supreme leader.

Dressed in a western-style suit and tie, Kim hailed the great success of the regime's nuclear and long-range missile tests early this year. "We achieved great success with our first hydrogen bomb test and the launch of the observation satellite, Kwangmyongsong-4. They raised the dignity and might of North Korea to the highest level."

Kim also stated that he will use the congress to showcase North Korea's socialist success and continue his family's legacy. "This congress is a historic opportunity. It marks a new milestone in the struggle to consolidate and develop the glorious party that adheres to the ideology of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. It also completes the great achievements of socialism."

Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, may be promoted to the department director of party's Propaganda and Agitation Department from her current vice director position. The 29-year-old was able to take such a significant position at a young age as the blood descendant of Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, conferring her legitimacy to rule. In addition, she's carried out seven of Kim Jong-un's public activities this year alone, and has been earning his trust since 2014. Pundits say she's highly likely to be promoted when voting takes place on the last day of the party congress. Up until now, aides close to Kim Jong-un's father Kim Jong-il, had accompanied the young leader,.. but with Kim Jong-un to announce the beginning of his era, attention is focused on which young officials Kim will choose to be part of his inner circle.

The Korean Central Television aired a special program from 8:30 a.m. Friday and said that the significant day of the opening of congress had come, describing it as a glorious gathering of winners. The report added that the congress is the largest political commemoration in the ruling party’s history and expressed gratitude to Kim for opening the congress.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party, said in an editorial on its first page that the seventh congress is a gathering of winners that will be specially mentioned in the party’s history and humankind. The paper claimed that under Kim’s leadership, an epic poem of great change admired by the world has been embroidered and the strength of the nation has been sharply reinforced.

The seventh congress of North Korea's ruling Worker's Party was viewed as an event to officially declare the era of leader Kim Jong-un's regime. The gathering kicked off at the April 25th Culture Hall in Pyongyang with opening remarks by Kim. The first day of the congress was expected to include briefings by the party's Central Committee, followed by discussions.

There were signs that the North was also preparing events on the sidelines of the congress, such as a public rally or performances. The official said it's also possible that Congress meetings will not be held on days of a public rally. An estimated three-thousand participants of the congress who were selected in provincial and local party delegate meetings in April 2016 gathered in the capital city on May Day. On Wednesday 04 May 2016, they visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the bodies of former North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il are enshrined. The North was seeking to complete its version of a socialist party-state system and strengthen the Kim Jong-un regime.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported on Tuesday 03 May 2016 that leaders of Russia's Communist Party, the Islamic Iran Solidarity Party and the Mongolian People’s Party sent congratulations addressed to leader Kim Jong-un. While specifically mentioning senders from Nepalese and Bangladeshi parties, the North only included China in the list of 20 nations whose political, social or economic figures sent congratulatory messages.

The Workers’ Party held the first congress since 1980 beginning 06 May 2016, state media said 31 October 2015. The party said the convention would be aimed at strengthening its role under Kim’s leadership to build a “thriving” nation, without disclosing what would be discussed at the meeting. The KWP's last full party congress was in 1980, and the Central Committee last met in 1994.

In North Korea, a party congress is one of the biggest festivals. The top leader displays his leadership through various activities. The party congress would serve as a stage for proclaiming the Kim Jong-un era and strengthening internal unity. During the convention, North Korea would show off the leader’s achievements and reaffirm the nation’s parallel pursuit of nuclear and economic development. Ahead of the convention, however, Pyongyang focused on demonstrating its military power by stressing its advanced nuclear capabilities and warning of a preemptive strike. Initially, the focus of the 7th party congress was to be placed on economic issues. But the state may have changed its strategic goal to concentrate more on its nuclear weapons development. The North concentrated its energy on producing results to be shown at the Party Congress, while trying to strengthen internal solidarity through the political slogan “Arduous March.”

The new Party Congress in the fifth year of the Kim Jong-un regime reflects that the nation is confident in internal stability. The confidence stems from the fact that close aides of the North Korean leader have been positioned in major posts. The North Korean economy has grown around 1 percent, and the nation now has 450 markets, which are under control. Also, more than 3.5 million North Koreans own mobile phones. Based on these indications, North Korea seemed to be feeling confident.

In his New Year’s message in 2016, Kim Jong-un said that he would turn the 7th party congress into a festival. In February 2016, hundreds of slogans were sent all around the country for the successful hosting of the party event. Since March 2016, city and county committees of the Workers’ Party have been selecting representatives, who will be attending the congress. North Korea selected delegates from each province to attend the massive party event. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was selected to represent the Korean People’s Army for the party congress.

Since March 2016, the state staged the “70-day battle,” providing citizens with ideological education after work. In this way, North Korea forcibly elicited internal solidarity. North Korea put the country under a heightened state of alert for the 70-day period leading up to the congress, and intensified the measures as the Congress approached. The regime barred entry and exit to and from the capital city of Pyongayng and along the North's border areas with China. The North Korean authorities also stopped issuing travel permits for the rest of the country. The permits are required for all citizens wanting to travel to other provinces for personal reasons or business trips. If caught traveling without the document, citizens are sent to a work camp for a few months. The North's control over its people has reached a point where its impeding people's ability to work. The authorities were making daily surprise visits to people's homes and arbitrarily stopping cars and people on the streets for questioning.

The North was expected to raise Kim’s status to that of his grandfather and father on the occasion of the seventh party congress. Since the execution of Kim’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, in December 2013, the North began glorifying its young leader. The North uses the expression “great” when referring to Kim as it had done with Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. It also uses the term “supreme leader” for Kim which had previously been used only for the North’s founder and Kim’s grandfather. The Kim Jong-un era will be proclaimed on the day of the 7th party convention. He will likely end the era ruled by the instructions of the late former leader Kim Jong-il and proclaim the start of the Kim Jong-un era, both in name and reality.

There was no indication that North Korea would invite foreign guests to the Seventh Workers’ Party Congress. A total of 177 delegates from 118 countries including China and Russia attended the Sixth Party Congress in 1980, including presidents and prime ministers. However, the North did not invite foreign guests to its Fifth Congress in 1970.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 11:42:28 ZULU