North Korea’s Kim convenes key party meeting ahead of new year -KCNA

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has kicked off a key meeting of the country’s ruling party, state media KCNA reported on Wednesday, setting the stage for unveiling policy decisions for the new year.

The ninth Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea wraps up a year during which the isolated country enshrined nuclear policy in its constitution, successfully launched a spy satellite and fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The days-long assembly of the party and government officials has been used in recent years to make key policy announcements. Previously, state media released Kim’s speech on New Year’s Day.

On the first day of the meeting on Tuesday, participants discussed six major agenda items, including this year’s policy and budget implementation, a draft budget for 2024 and ways to bolster the party’s leadership, KCNA said.

Kim “defined 2023 as a year of great turn and great change,” lauding progress in all areas including the military, economy, science and public health despite some “deviations,” it said.

He presented a detailed report involving “indices of the overall national economy which is clearly proving that the comprehensive development of socialist construction is being pushed forward in real earnest,” KCNA said.

The development of new strategic weapons including the reconnaissance satellite has put the country “on the position of a military power,” it added.

Tension has rekindled in recent weeks after North Korea tested its newest ICBM which it said was aimed at gauging the war readiness of its nuclear forces against mounting U.S. hostility.

Kim also said last week that Pyongyang would not hesitate to launch a nuclear attack if an enemy provokes it with nuclear weapons.

The United States, South Korea and Japan condemned the missile test, and activated a system to detect and assess North Korea’s missile launches in real-time and established a multi-year trilateral military exercise plan.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Chris Reese)