North Korea’s Parliament to Meet

March 31st, 2013 by Staff

North Korea’s pseudo-parliament convenes for a single day on Monday.

Jokes aside, the meeting will rubber-stamp budget and personnel decisions, the latter of which will be scanned by North Korea watchers for indications of who the rising and falling stars are in the administration and how their profiles might indicate shifting influences on policy.

Ahead of the meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly, a gathering of the central committee of the Korean Worker’s Party on Sunday laid some of the groundwork for the higher-profile Monday meeting and appeared to indicate that overall near-term policies won’t be shifting much, if at all.

The build-up to the KWP meeting was made a little more intriguing by the preannouncement that the party’s key decision making body would settle on an “important issue.” While experience has shown that the important issues for the North Korean leadership are those that help maintain the control of the regime, observers await the day when change will finally come to North Korea and look for any sign of it on the horizon.

The read-out from North Korean state media of the meeting was, unsurprisingly, disappointing. Kim Jong Eun chaired the meeting, which appeared to spend most of its time on the topic of “carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously,” according to the report from the Korean Central News Agency.

The account of the meeting reads mostly like an editorial, with no attributions (it would be unrealistic to expect the meeting to have had much cut-and-thrust of debate).

On nuclear weapons, the meeting reportedly agreed that North Korea’s “possession of nukes should be fixed by law and the nuclear armed forces should be expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively.” That is a reinforcement of recent messages from Pyongyang that its nuclear weapons program is here to stay. But bizarrely, the report also says that North Korea “will make positive efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation, ensure peace and security in Asia and the rest of the world and realize the denuclearization of the world.” It doesn’t say how.

The sections on the economy contain typical Marxist-Leninist babble: the report says industry should be “drastically developed and production be increased to the maximum.” Efforts should be focused on agriculture and light industry, it says.

Perhaps the most interesting section is where the report says the economy should be shifted to a “knowledge-based economy and foreign trade be made multilateral and diversified and investment be widely introduced.” That looks intriguing and even sounds like an opening up, but North Korea has for years been trying to attract investment–in particular into special economic zones on the Chinese and Russian borders–but with little success. Those that have invested in North Korea have generally got their fingers burned.

As for a knowledge-based economy, it is hard to see that happening in a country where only a tiny elite can access the Internet.

The meeting also covered other familiar fields with familiar messages: North Korea wants to launch more satellites, continue develop nuclear power and tighten security controls.

In sum, the meeting of the party committee doesn’t appear to herald much excitement for Monday’s assembly meeting. Expect Parliament to stick to the same script, but maybe there will be some interesting personnel changes to give observers something to chew on.

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment. You are free to voice your opinion but please keep it clean. Any comments using profanity will be rejected.