This is when Kim Jong-un will finally formalise his own succession and set out his agenda. The build-up is part of the mystique and it is here that he will try to balance all the competing interests within the party, army and the state.
This is the craziest of all the Kims.
The congress is also a public opportunity for him to reward loyalists; those who helped his father and those who helped him in his transition. He will also appoint some people his own age into lower-tier positions, a kind of regime-in-waiting.
What took them so long?
The last one, the 1980 congress, was five years overdue. According to the Party Charter, a party congress is “the supreme organ of the party” and should be convened every five years.
But in lieu of a full congress, the party can convene a party conference. The Workers’ Party of Korea didn’t do this until 2010, 30 years later. At that meeting they took out the five-year requirement. It is hard to say exactly what has taken so long, but in this time the Communist world would radically change. There are now far fewer international delegations who might be able to make it. The economic plans that used to be announced at such events, were no longer relevant either.
The congress will determine the role of and elect members of the party’s leading institutions. It is also there to amend the Party Charter.
The Party Charter sets out how the party is organised, how the party bodies relate to North Korea’s government, military, society, economy and culture. It is also an ideological document with a preamble that gives a broad definition of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s views on a number of different domestic and international issues. These will inform North Korean policies until the next congress.
What happened in 1980?
The last Party Congress was held in October 1980. It served as the first event at which Kim Jong-il was publicly identified as the successor to his father, North Korean founder Kim Il-sung.
Essentially, it formalised Kim Family rule through hereditary succession, ushered in changes to North Korea’s political institutions and brought in a new generation of officials, some of whom remain in power to this day.
One wrong move by any of these brown-nosers and it could be the firing squad.
Where is James Franco when you need him?