January 26, 2021

What To Make Of Pyongyang’s Recent Political meetings?

Reading Tea Leaves: The Central Committee and Plenum and the Supreme People’s Assembly

by Stephan Haggard and Luke Herman

The recent round of rhetorical escalation between North Korea, South Korea and the U.S. crested just as two political gatherings were convening: a plenum of the Workers’ Party Central Committee and the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the country’s legislature. Both are top-down bodies that are used not to deliberate, but to propagate: to hand out the script. The meetings generated both interesting leadership moves and some new programmatic statements. The SPA edicts represent a full-throated statement of the intention to square the circle: to become a responsible nuclear power and aggressively pursuing a “space”—read “missile”—program while also undertaking economic reconstruction.