North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gestures during a Central Committee of the Worker’s Party meeting in Pyongyang on Tuesday. Reuters
North Korea will hold a plenary session of its ruling party’s central committee on Wednesday, a day after leader Kim Jong Un chaired a politburo meeting to discuss ways to make progress under the “prevailing tense situation,” state media reported.
The plenary session, which occurs regularly, comes in the wake of Kim’s second summit with US President Donald Trump in February in Hanoi, where the two leaders failed to make any agreements over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme or international sanctions.
The ruling party officials will gather to “discuss and decide the new orientation and ways of struggle in line with the need of the prevailing revolutionary situation,” state news agency KCNA said on Wednesday.
In a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea on Tuesday, Kim told officials they need to work more responsibly to carry out his strategy in the face of international pressure.
“The Supreme Leader urged the need for leading officials to fully display a high sense of responsibility and creativity, and the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance and fortitude in an attitude befitting the masters of the revolution and construction under the prevailing tense situation and thus follow through on the new strategic line of the Party,” KCNA said.
At a plenary session last year, Kim formally announced a “new strategic line” of focusing on economic progress and improving North Koreans’ lives, rather than the previous two-pronged approach of both economic and nuclear weapons development.
Despite his failure to secure any sanctions relief at the Hanoi summit, Kim has continued to highlight his economic push in recent weeks.
Over the past week state media published images and reports of Kim visits to at least four economic projects in five days, including a remodelled department store, tourist resorts, and an economic hub near the border with China.
North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament is scheduled to meet on Thursday.
Wednesday’s ruling party plenary session comes as South Korean President Moon Jae-in flies to Washington to meet with Trump and try to jumpstart talks between North Korea and the United States.
“In a situation where it’s difficult to take a completely new path, they’re emphasising self-reliance to show the US that they can go their own way,” said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.
“North Korea is targeting the US, sending a message that we will not back down, so the US must change its stance.”
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After shaking hands with Kim over the line that marks where their two countries and their allies fought each other to a standstill in the 1950-53 Korean War, Trump walked for several steps into North Korean territory, before another handshake.
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