Workers’ Party congress in May first in 36 years

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Workers’ Party congress in May first in 36 years

North Korea announced 350 slogans for its 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party, scheduled to be held in May for the first time in 36 years, the country’s state media reported Thursday, which encourage its people to embolden national defense capabilities.

The rare congressional meeting, called by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the first time in more than three decades, indicates that the young ruler has stabilized his control over the regime since coming to power in 2011 after his father died of a heart attack.

The slogans, published by the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party, encouraged loyalty to the Kim family - founding father Kim Il Sung, the late leader Kim Jong-il and current ruler Kim Jong-un - according to a report in the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The congress is a “historic landmark of epochal significance in further strengthening the Workers’ Party into the great party of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong-il and accelerating the final victory under the leadership of Marshal Kim Jong-un,” the report read.

The slogans, which were submitted three months ahead of the event, also encouraged the North Korean people to develop the economy and to improve their standards of living. Some slogans also touched upon “achieving unification independently.”

The meeting also marks the first time the 33-year-old Kim will preside over the congress, an event that will place all eyes firmly on North Korea and any policy changes the regime may outline.

Over nearly the past two months, the United Nations and North Korea’s neighbors have pushed for harsher sanctions against Pyongyang following the country’s fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and subsequent long-range missile test on Feb. 7.

In its slogans for the upcoming congress, the regime vowed to launch more satellites and highlighted the success of its nuclear test, which North Korea claims was a hydrogen bomb.

On Thursday, the South Korean government said in a meeting with the nation’s top spy agency and ruling party lawmakers that it suspects North Korea may have conducted the nuclear test and missile launch to take the focus off the Workers’ Party congress.

BY KIM SO-HEE [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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