North Korea announces rare, giant political gathering

Seoul, South Korea (CNN)North Korea has announced plans for a rare, potentially significant occasion for next year. It will convene its seventh communist party congress.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un

The Workers’ Party of Korea hasn’t held one since 1980, and that one peaked with the announcement that Kim Jong Il, the father of the country’s current leader, would take the reigns of power. The next congress will come in May, North Korea’s official news agency KCNA reported on Thursday.

Why the Political Bureau, which Kim Jong Un heads, called the congress has triggered speculation. They were once more common but ceased once his father took power.

The official reason for the congress given in KCNA’s report was that it was “reflecting the demand of the party and the developing revolution.”

The congress may be intended to bolster the perception that Kim has a stable hold on power, said Yang Moo-jin from South Korea’s University of North Korean Studies. Kim may announce economic reforms or new diplomatic relations.

Or it could reflect a shift in internal power from the military to the party.

“When Kim Jong Il was in power…the ‘National Defense Commission’ played a key-role in state affairs. The holding of the 7th Congress could symbolize that the Worker’s Party’s role was normalized. One of the key things to watch is whether Kim Jong Un will maintain the ‘National Defense Commission’ system or shift the function back to the party,” Yang said.

Earlier this month, North Korea celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of its communist party with an opulent military parade billed as its biggest ever.

North Korea practices its own brand of communist ideology called Juche, which propagates nationalist self-reliance as opposed to internationalism, which is a core principal of Marxist-Leninist communism.

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