Kim Jong-un is creating a terrifying day-to-day atmosphere in the run up to the major party congress according to sources, a crackdown that includes prohibitions on weddings and funerals. At the meeting, the young autocrat will officially be declared the unchallenged ruler of the Worker’s Party, which controls the pariah state.
According to Newsweek, an unidentified source speaking to the Daily NK, a newspaper run by North Korean defectors, said, “They are creating a day-to-day atmosphere that is terrifying.”
“Patrols by the Ministry of People’s Security have teamed up with inminban [people’s units, a type of neighborhood watch] to visit not only the houses of ordinary people, but also hotel and motel rooms to check the identification of those staying in temporary lodgings.”
The ban on weddings and funerals is only the start of the extreme security measures. Travel in and out of the capital of Pyongyang is severely limited. Anyone arrested before the week the 7th Congress of the ruling Workers Party on May 6th will be labeled a political criminal.
The strict rules set the stage for an incredibly rare event in North Korea according to the International Business Times. The last congress was held in 1980 to appoint Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il. In addition to Kim Jong-un solidifying his power, the leader is expected to lay out his plans for the nation’s economy and declare North Korea a nuclear state in front of thousands of delegates.
The foreign press has been invited to cover the congress, and the entire event will take about four to five days, adding further delays to Pyongyang’s wedding planners.
North Koreans would have little time for weddings and funerals anyways, ordinary people have been ordered to clean up the capital for the big meeting.
Reuters reports that South Korea fears the congress could also include a nuclear test. Kim Jong-un has made nuclear arms a priority for the country, and such a show would demonstrate the outcome of the enormous investments. It would also be North Korea’s fifth nuclear test so far.
The country has also been conducting a number of weapons tests, including a failed attempt to launch three intermediate-range Musudan missiles. The weapons demonstrations have ratcheted up the tensions in the decades-long conflict between South Korea and the U.S. and North Korea.
North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Su-yong insisted to reporters at the United Nations Climate Change Conference that his country’s priority is not the weapons; it’s economics.
“I’m sure our country will be even more vibrant after the party congress to build up a more prosperous and powerful, economically sound nation. The first thing is to advance the pace of economic building… the second is to improve the people’s living standards… and the third, to strengthen our national defense capabilities.”
He added, “The real source of power in our country isn’t nuclear weapons or any other military means, but the single-minded unity of the people and the leader.”
Later on, the minister offered a path to relaxing the current tensions. He explained that Kim Jong-un would “scale back” the nuclear program if the U.S. discontinued joint-military exercises with South Korea, but with the congress promising to tout the country’s nuclear weapons, that deal seems unlikely.
[Photo by Korean News Service via Getty Images]