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Kim calls an unusual party meeting

Apr 21,2018
North Korea said it was holding an unusual plenary meeting of the ruling Central Committee of the Workers’ Party on Friday to discuss crucial issues.

No details of the convention were released as of press time Friday.

On Thursday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that a third plenary meeting of the seventh Central Committee of the Workers’ Party would be held Friday. The purpose, said KCNA, was to “discuss and decide the policy issues of new stage in line with the demand of the important historic period of the developing Korean revolution,” according to an English version of the report.

The North usually holds a Central Committee plenary meeting once a year to discuss domestic and international issues in addition to announcing major personnel changes. KCNA’s announcement on Thursday came as a surprise to North Korea watchers because the last meeting was held only six months ago in early October 2017.

South Korean authorities said they would try to determine if North Korea mentioned its nuclear weapons in the Friday meeting, as leader Kim Jong-un prepares to hold discussions on some sort of denuclearization with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump in two separate bilateral summits.

In the Central Committee plenary meeting last October, Kim affirmed his “Byungjin Nosun” policy in a speech, stressing that the Workers’ Party should “invariably keep to this road” of simultaneously pursuing economic growth and nuclear weapons development. North Korea’s nuclear weapons, he stressed, were a “precious fruition” for defending the sovereignty of the country from the “nuclear threats of the U.S. imperialists.”

Lee Ki-dong, vice president of South Korea’s Institute of National Security Strategy, said Kim might announce a change to the Byungjin Nosun policy considering the main agenda item for his upcoming summits with Moon and Trump was denuclearization of some sort.

A clandestine meeting Kim had earlier this month with Mike Pompeo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Trump’s secretary of state nominee, also may have induced Kim to pursue a policy shift, Lee said.

Kim, who has several titles, will likely take part in the summits as the commission’s chairman.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]