The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is gearing-up for the biggest meeting of its ruling party in over three decades. The congress was called by Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong-Un. It is expected to consolidate his power and confirm the DPRK as nuclear weapons power.
CCTV’s Nathan King has a preview.
DPRK holds first congress in 36 yearsThe Democratic People's Republic of Korea is gearing-up for the biggest meeting of its ruling party in over three decades. The congress was called by Pyongyang's leader Kim Jong-Un. It is expected to consolidate his power and confirm the DPRK as nuclear weapons power. CCTV's Nathan King has a preview.
Thirty-six years ago, when the DPRK last held a worker’s party congress, Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather and founder of the nation, Kim Il-sung was in power and Un wasn’t even born.
This time, things are different. The DPRK is a nuclear power and the world is watching to see if the DPRK will officially declare itself one.
In fact, there have been reports that Pyongyang may conduct its fifth nuclear test in tandem with this congress.
In January this year, the DPRK claimed that it carried out a fourth nuclear test with a hydrogen device. If true that would show a big jump in technology. Pyongyang has also been testing longer range missiles and space technology.
Those tests led to UN security Council resolution 2270, which imposed the toughest sanctions yet on the DPRK – especially on its shipping. The resolution also toughened financial sanctions and bans on arms shipments and, of course, nuclear and missile testing.
China has vowed to impose these sanctions to the letter, but has said the underlying security issues on the Korean peninsula need to be addressed, too. The DPRK feels hemmed in by the South with tens of thousands of U.S. troops on its border.
Beijing has urged the international community to try and address the long term security issues facing the DPRK.
“I believe the American and South Korea’s rejection of the recent proposal put forward by North Korea, this temporarily freezing nuclear tests in exchange for America and South Korea stopping their military exercises might be a lost opportunity, if not a mistake,” Wang Dong, Director, School of International Studies at Peking University said.
In fact, tensions are rising as the U.S. is thinking of deploying its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system on the Korean peninsula. The THAAD system is designed to shoot down the DPRK’s ballistic missiles, but could also be used to monitor Chinese missile launches-deep inside China’s borders.
For China, the short term goal is the resumption of long stalled six-party talks on the DPRK involving both Korean states, China, Russia, the U.S. and Japan. But in this current environment that is unlikely.
Sixty years after the Korean peninsula was divided by war, the standoff continues.
Sung-Yoon Lee on the DPRK’s worker’s party congress
For more on what to expect from the DPRK congress, we are joined by Sung-Yoon Lee, Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School.