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[Newsmaker] NK to convene party meeting this week

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks at the eighth congress of Workers’ Party in Pyongyang last month. (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks at the eighth congress of Workers’ Party in Pyongyang last month. (KCNA-Yonhap)

North Korea is set to convene a meeting of top ruling party officials to finalize policy plans for this year set forth at last month’s Workers’ Party congress, state media said Sunday.
 
The second plenary meeting of the eighth Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea will take place within the first 10 days of this month, according to the official Korea Central News Agency. The state media did not specify an exact date in the report, but considering the disclosed time frame, the meeting is expected to be held before Wednesday. Officials at the meeting will “examine and decide” the country’s plans for 2021 in all sectors, in order to thoroughly carry out the “strategic tasks” mapped out during the eighth party congress last month, according to the report.
 
Last month, the reclusive regime held a rare party congress and rolled out a new five-year economic development plan, after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un conceded that the previous plan had failed to meet its targets in “almost every sector,” as the country faces serious economic challenges in the wake of prolonged US-led sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic. Under the new economic development plan, which centers on “self-reliance” and “self-sufficiency,” the North will further invest in the metals and chemicals industries, among others.
 
During the congress, Kim also vowed to accelerate nuclear deterrence and military power, and continued to acquire more advanced nuclear weapons and missiles, such as the submarine-launched ballistic missile, to counter threats from Washington.
 
With the economic drive and bolstering military capability set as two pillars of the eight-day congress, the upcoming plenary meeting is expected to discuss follow-up measures in those areas.
 
The first plenary meeting of the eighth Central Committee, presided over by Kim, was held during the party congress last month. During the meeting, a reshuffling of the party’s major organizations’ took place, with Kim Yo-jong, leader Kim’s influential younger sister, removed from the party’s powerful politburo.
 
Many observers say leader Kim is expected to preside over the upcoming session like the first meeting. Kim has remained out of the public eye since the party congress last month.
 
All eyes are on whether Pyongyang will have a message for the new Biden administration, as the US is undergoing a policy review on North Korea. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Washington will review the “entire” US approach toward North Korea and is considering both sanctions and incentives with the aim to denuclearize the country.
  
By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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