Kim is re-elected chairman of State Affairs Commission
The North’s Premier Pak Pong-ju was also replaced by Kim Jae-ryong, a senior member of the ruling Workers’ Party, during the first session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly held Thursday, the Korean Central News Agency said.
“The election of the Supreme Leader as chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK is the great political event of crucial historical significance,” the KCNA said. DPRK is an acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Kim was first elected to the post in June 2016, when the commission was created through an amendment to the constitution. Though it has been only three years since the election, his new five-year term should technically start with the beginning of the newly formed parliament.
Thursday’s session drew a lot of attention since it determined a new makeup for the country’s leadership.
In the meeting, North Korea’s nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam was replaced by Choe Ryong-hae, vice chairman of the State Affairs Commission, according to state media.
The North’s top nuclear negotiator Kim Yong-chol and others involved in February’s second summit with the United States, including Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, were also elected members of the State Affairs Commission.
The summit in Hanoi fell apart after North Korean leader Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump failed to find common ground over how to match Pyongyang’s denuclearization steps with Washington’s sanctions relief.
Pyongyang wanted sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear facility. But Washington insisted on what officials described as “a big deal” that offered sanctions relief for the dismantling of all of the North’s nuclear and other weapons programs.
During key party meetings held ahead of the parliamentary session, Kim stressed the importance of “self-reliance” repeatedly and urged his people to follow through on the party’s strategic line of economic development. He mentioned his second summit with Trump in late February but steered clear of directly criticizing Washington.
Thursday’s parliamentary meeting coincided with summit talks between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Thursday.
The two shared the need for maintaining dialogue with North Korea to peacefully resolve its nuclear issue and Moon expressed hope to hold a fourth inter-Korean summit with Kim. Trump reaffirmed his stance to maintain sanctions on Pyongyang to force it to give up its nuclear weapons program.
The parliamentary meeting touched on budgetary issues. According to KCNA, the North’s total expenditures this year on economic construction projects will expand 5.4 percent on-year. In particular, its investment in science and technology will expand by 8.7 percent on-year.
The North forecast that its revenue will grow 3.7 percent on year this year, with expenditures projected to increase 5.3 percent over the same period, the state media reported.