North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been given the title of Chairman of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK) on Monday, prior to the official closing of the 7th Worker’s Party Congress.
The announcement of the new title was made by Kim Yong Nam, the President of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) and the de facto head of state.
The announcement was read out in front of WPK delegates and a select group foreign journalists who were finally given permission to attend the proceedings after being shut out from the April 25 House of Culture since the beginning of the Congress on May 6.
“Kim Jong Un (sic) has the same title that Kim Il Sung (sic), his grandfather, held from 1946 to 1966,” Michael Madden, author of the NKLeadershipWatch blog and Visiting Scholar at the U.S. Korea Institute SAIS, told NK News on Monday. The development was expected as it was one of the previously stated aims of the Congress.
Madden added that there appears to have been a revision of the WPK Charter to bring back the title of Chairman as it had previously been changed at the 2nd Party Conference to General-Secretary.
According to Madden, subsequent changes were also made to the Charter during the 4th Party Conference, which made Kim Jong Il the eternal General-Secretary and Kim Jong Un the First Secretary, the title he held prior to Monday’s announcement.
Kim Jong Un has now seemingly been confirmed as the most senior leader of the party by title however beyond solidifying his position, the new title may not hold many significant or technical changes.
“I don’t think there will be a technical difference; the language is likely the same, which is ‘head and representative of the WPK’ and that the Chairman is concurrently the Chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission,” Madden added.
According to a report filed by Eric Talmadge from the Associated Press, the group of select foreign media personnel were only allowed to view the Congress from inside the April 25 House of Culture for 10 minutes, during which point the announcement was made.
The 10 minute glimpse of the inner workings of the Congress seem to be the limit to what the over 100-strong contingent of foreign journalists are able to view close up, as the Congress was also declared closed by Kim late on Monday.
Foreign journalists invited to cover the event were left frustrated as they were restricted from proceedings and instead were shown several inconsequential locations, seemingly for propaganda purposes, such as a wire factory, a collective farm and a barbershop.
A group of BBC journalists were also detained, questions and expelled from the country due to their reporting while in North Korea, although they had been invited to the country on a different assignment.
Among other assertions made while addressing the Congress, Kim asserted that North Korea would not use nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty was breached, that “communication and negotiation” was the way forward with regards to inter-Korean relations and that the country is open to normalizing relations with “once hostile” nations.
Kim Jong Un’s “byungjin line”, a policy of simultaneous nuclear and economic development, was also reiterated during the Congress.
“We will consistently take hold on the strategic line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force…as long as the imperialists persist in their nuclear threat and arbitrary practices,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), reported from the congress on Monday.
Featured Image: KCNA
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