North Korea (Wire)

N.K. leader’s New Year message likely to focus on party congress: Seoul

The Korea Observer
Yonhap News
Written by Yonhap News

SEOUL, Dec. 31 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is likely to instruct his people to thoroughly prepare for the ruling party’s upcoming congress at his New Year’s message, a Seoul government official said Thursday.

The Workers’ Party of Korea plans to hold the first congress in more than three decades in May next year when Kim may unveil new lines of policies and conduct a major reshuffle.

“At his New Year’s address, Kim is likely to stress efforts to prepare for the event,” said an official at the Unification Ministry, asking not to be named.

Last year, Kim called for a “big shift” in inter-Korean relations in his New Year’s message, saying that he is willing to hold summit talks with President Park Geun-hye if conditions are met.

South and North Korea reached a rare deal on Aug. 25 to defuse military tension following a land mine blast near the inter-Korean border blamed on North Korea.

As part of such an agreement, the two sides held vice ministerial talks over how to mend their ties earlier this month, but they ended the talks without any agreement.

The North’s leader may seek a package deal with South Korea, including a push for summit talks, ahead of its key party congress, according to a report by South Korea’s Institute for National Security Strategy.

The report said that despite a recent breakdown in the talks, North Korea has the motivation to improve its relations with Seoul as it needs to establish noticeable feats for the occasion of the party event.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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