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NK mum on party congress slated for early Jan

This photo, captured from Korean Central TV, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presiding over a politburo meeting of the central committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang on Dec. 29, 2020. It was decided at the meeting to hold the party's eighth congress in early January. (Korean Central TV-Yonhap)
This photo, captured from Korean Central TV, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presiding over a politburo meeting of the central committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang on Dec. 29, 2020. It was decided at the meeting to hold the party's eighth congress in early January. (Korean Central TV-Yonhap)
North Korea remains silent about its much anticipated eighth party congress which it said would be held in early January.

For the sixth Workers’ Party congress held in October 1980 and the seventh in May 2016, North Korea announced the opening dates 20 days and 10 days prior to the dayslong event.

This time, North’s state media is merely continuing to emphasize the importance of party leadership.

The Rodong Sinmun, a mouthpiece of the North Korean Workers’ Party, said in its front page editorial Tuesday that there is “no power in the world that can block Socialist Choson from moving forward with the party’s lead.”

In another article, the Rodong stressed that the people were “the roots of the life of the party,” and that the party has always served the people.

South Korean intelligence officials had expected the North’s party congress to be held around Monday or Tuesday.

Selected party delegates have reportedly arrived in Pyongyang by Dec. 30, and the country’s leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday falls on Jan. 8, raising doubts about how much further the party congress can be postponed.

Chances that the party congress already secretly kicked off are low, considering the expressions used by the North Korean media.

The North’s international propaganda outlet Uriminjokkiri used the expression “this meaningful moment looking ahead to the glorious party congress.”

The North’s Korea Central Television mentioned “a resolve to meaningfully welcome the eighth party congress,” suggesting it hasn’t started yet.

For the last party congress in 2016, some 3,000 selected party members from around the country had assembled in Pyongyang to pay tribute to the shrine where its deceased leaders are laid, visit the country’s Communist historic sites, listen to their leader Kim Jong-un’s speech and party central committee’s project plans.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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