N.K. to hold parliamentary session after expressing willingness to improve inter-Korean ties

By Yi Wonju

SEOUL, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) — North Korea is set to convene a session of its rubber-stamp legislature this week, drawing attention to whether any message to South Korea would come out of the meeting after the sister of leader Kim Jong-un expressed a willingness to improve inter-Korean relations.

State media earlier reported a session of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) will be held Tuesday to discuss adopting laws on youth education and modifications to the national economic plan, as well as adopting the law on developing cities and counties, and organizational issues.

The session will come just three days after the leader Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, said the North could declare a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, as suggested by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and even discuss the possibility of an inter-Korean summit if Seoul ensures mutual respect.

That has raised speculation the North would issue a message to the South during the SPA session.

During his policy speech at an SPA session in April 2019, leader Kim expressed his willingness to hold a third summit with then U.S. President Donald Trump after their no-deal summit in February that year.

However, it remains unclear whether Kim will attend this week’s session as he was not included as one of the representatives of the 14th SPA, elected in 2019 for a five-year term.

This week’s session also comes as the North has recently stressed the importance of ideological education for the youth and rooting out non-socialist practices amid growing economic pressure from the fallout of global sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.

In December, the North enacted a law that toughens the punishment for possession of videos made in South Korea as part of efforts to prevent the inflow of outside culture that could influence its people’s ideology.

The upcoming law adoption appears to be aimed at specifically tightening control over the youth.

At a rare party congress in January, leader Kim Jong-un admitted to a failure in his previous economic development plan and disclosed a new development scheme focusing on self-reliance. The North is expected to announce modifications to the economic plan at the session.

The SPA usually meets in April every year to address the state budget and Cabinet reshuffling, but it has been closely watched from the outside for any glimpse into the reclusive state’s stance on foreign affairs, including its stance on denuclearization talks with the United States.

North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly holds a meeting at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on April 12, 2020, in this file photo released by the Korean Central News Agency. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un did not attend the meeting, which dealt with budgetary issues and the election of new members of the powerful State Affairs Commission led by Kim. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)