North Korea’s rubber-stamp Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) will convene for a session on April 10, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and party daily the Rodong Sinmun reported on Saturday.
The meeting will see the 14th SPA convene for its third session since last year’s elections, following its second meeting in August last year, at which a number of constitutional amendments were unveiled.
“The Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK on March 20 released a decision on convening a SPA session” in Pyongyang on April 10, an announcement on page two of Saturday’s Rodong Sinmun read.
The SPA also made public an official notice informing deputies of the parliament about the session, it continued, adding that there will be a “registration of deputies” on April 10 as well.
The rubber-stamp parliament typically deals with issues such as constitutional revision, legislation, budgets, and personnel shuffles in state organs.
Last August’s session unveiled a number of constitutional revisions aimed a further solidifying the “legal status” of Kim Jong Un’s chairmanship of the State Affairs Commission (SAC) and his leadership over “all the state affairs.”
President of the SPA Presidium Choe Ryong Hae said at the time that the new article “constitutionally fixes the status of the SAC chairman as the supreme leader of the Party, state and armed forces of the DPRK elected in accordance with the unanimous will and desire of all the Korean people, both in name and reality.”
While Saturday’s announcement of a SPA session 20 days prior, 2019 saw North Korea break from the norm and hold two sessions of the legislature in one year.
Plans for the third session of the 14th SPA also comes amid an unprecedentedly strict “national emergency quarantine system” by the North Korean state against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
International public health authorities have since the beginning of that pandemic warned that large public gatherings may serve as a means for the virus to spread, suggesting that people “self isolate” and maintain distance from others.
DPRK state media outlets, too, have warned against large group gatherings.
But the past week has seen hints that Pyongyang may be gaining greater confidence in its management of COVID-19, with a crowd of thousands of soldiers attending a groundbreaking ceremony for the country’s new Pyongyang General Hospital construction project on Tuesday.
Photos of that ceremony showed a crowd standing tightly side-by-side wearing masks, though Kim Jong Un and other high-level officials opted not wear protective gear.
The DPRK has in recent weeks called off or postponed a number of high-profile events amid concerns over the virus, however, including an annual April marathon and the Pyongyang International Film Festival (PIFF).
NK News also learned this week that a number of international trade fairs, planned to take place in the coming month, will likely not go ahead.
But news Saturday of plans for an SPA session less than three weeks away suggest North Korea may be seeking to project an image of normalcy, convening hundreds of officials for a gathering in Pyongyang despite the global pandemic.
Edited by Oliver Hotham