All weddings and funerals in North Korea has been banned
Kim is expected to cement his leadership and formally declare the nation a nuclear-armed state at the first ruling party congress in 36 years
The 33-year-old is expected to cement his leadership and formally declare the nation a nuclear-armed state at the first congress in a staggering 36 years.
Ahead of the meeting next week, North Korea has tightened security, with its capital, Pyongyang, placed on lockdown to avoid any ‘mishap’ at the event.
Weddings and funeral services have also been cancelled this week for security reasons, according to the Sunday Times.
“Strengthening security can be seen as a measure to prevent mishaps over the party congress,” Cheong Joon-hee, spokesman at South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which oversees dealings with the North, told a briefing.
North Korea has in the past taken such steps ahead of major events and has at times also shut down its border with China for the same reason, Cheong said.
North Korea announced the Korean Workers’ Party congress in October but only confirmed the May 6 starting date on Wednesday.
Thousands of delegates are set to travel to Pyongyang for the congress, at which advances in the drive for nuclear weapons will likely be hailed.
During the meeting, Kim is expected to mark his official coronation as leader.
The Daily NK, a website run by defectors with sources in North Korea, said that since mid-April, free movement in and out of the capital has been stopped and security personnel have been summoned from the provinces to step-up domestic surveillance.
The congress, expected to last four or five days, will be closely watched for any new policies and for how North Korea presents its pursuit of nuclear weapons, which has intensified since January when it conducted its fourth nuclear test.
The nuclear test was followed with a string of missile tests, though not all successful.
On Thursday, it tested what appeared to be two intermediate-range ballistic missiles but both failed, the U.S. and South Korean militaries said.
South Korea, and others nervously watching the North’s defiance of U.N. resolutions aimed at curbing its nuclear and ballistic missile technologies, expect another nuclear test before the congress.
North Korean authorities have also enlisted people in Pyongyang and some other places in a 70-day campaign to ramp-up productivity and spruce-up the capital, the Daily NK reported.