North Korea to convene rubber-stamp parliament in mid-January

The Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea's parliament, which passed a law officially enshrining its nuclear weapons policies, convenes in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) September 9, 2022. KCNA via REUTERS

By Soo-hyang Choi

SEOUL (Reuters) – The North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the isolated country’s rubber-stamp parliament, will convene on Jan. 17 to discuss government budget and other issues, state media said on Wednesday, amid mounting economic challenges.

The North’s parliament rarely meets and usually serves to approve decisions on issues such as governing structures and budgets that have been created by the state’s ruling Workers’ Party, members of which form the vast majority of the assembly.

The January session will follow a plenary meeting of the ruling party’s central committee in late December where Pyongyang is expected to set major policy directions for the new year after an unprecedented number of missile tests this year.

The agenda of upcoming parliamentary meeting will include the work of the Cabinet, government budgets, organisational matters and “the law on the protection of the cultured Pyongyang dialect,” KCNA news agency reported.

North Korea has conducted a record number of missile tests this year, prompting the United States, South Korea and Japan to impose more sanctions over its weapons programmes, including the latest announced last week.

Washington has been pushing to impose more United Nations sanctions on the North amid concerns it may resume testing nuclear weapons. But China and Russia have blocked such efforts, saying they should instead be eased to jumpstart talks and avoid humanitarian harm.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said last week this year’s internal and external circumstances were “unprecedented adversity that tested our will and fighting efficiency”, but the country achieved “remarkable development” to raise its prestige and honour to a new level.

North Korea’s economy shrank in 2021 for a second straight year after suffering its biggest contraction in more than two decades the previous year.

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Sandra Maler)

More Stories