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NK appears to have held parliamentary session after missile launch

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korea appears to have convened a session of its rubber-stamp legislature Tuesday after firing a short-range missile earlier in the day, drawing attention to whether any message to South Korea would come out of the meeting.

The meeting also comes just days after Kim Yo-jong, the sister of leader Kim Jong-un, expressed a willingness to improve inter-Korean relations and even discuss the possibility of a summit with South Korea on the condition that Seoul drops hostility.

State media earlier reported a session of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) will be held Tuesday to discuss adopting laws on youth education and modifications to the national economic plan, as well as adopting the law on developing cities and counties, and organizational issues.

As of 10 a.m. North Korean state media had not yet released any report on the session but it is likely to have been held in Pyongyang as announced.

The official Korean Central News Agency reported Choe Ryong-hae, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and parliamentary representatives offered flowers at the statues of former North Korean leaders at Pyongyang's Mansudae hill Monday, ahead of the SPA session.

The North is likely to announce the results of the session Wednesday morning through state media, given that major political events are usually reported the following day.

Authorities here also announced the North fired one short-range missile into the East Sea earlier in the day, drawing attention on whether the North would issue a message to the South during the SPA session.

During his policy speech at an SPA session in April 2019, leader Kim expressed his willingness to hold a third summit with then U.S. President Donald Trump after their no-deal summit in February that year.

However, it remains unclear whether Kim attended this week's session as he was not included as one of the representatives of the 14th SPA, elected in 2019 for a five-year term.

This week's session also comes as the North has recently stressed the importance of ideological education for the youth and rooting out non-socialist practices amid growing economic pressure from the fallout of global sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.

In December, the North enacted a law that toughens the punishment for possession of videos made in South Korea as part of efforts to prevent the inflow of outside culture that could influence its people's ideology.

The upcoming law adoption appears to be aimed at specifically tightening control over the youth.

At a rare party congress in January, leader Kim admitted to a failure in his previous economic development plan and disclosed a new development scheme focusing on self-reliance. The North is expected to announce modifications to the economic plan at the session.

The SPA usually meets in April every year to address the state budget and Cabinet reshuffling, but it has been closely watched from the outside for any glimpse into the reclusive state's stance on foreign affairs, including its stance on denuclearization talks with the United States. (Yonhap)