Controls to enter the city “have been beefed up,” a source told AsiaNews. “Even the few foreign industrialists are under restrictions.”
The secrecy is explained by the fact that delegates must make some compulsory visits before the start of the assembly. They have to visit the huge mausoleum of Kim Il-sung, the “eternal president” of the country, and donate flowers. They must go by Kim Jong-il’s residence and sing his praise, and finally they must visit a hospital or an industrial plant.
To do all this, they must move around the city a lot and the regime does not want them to be approached by untrustworthy people. Even the Okryugwan, the country’s most famous restaurant, has been shut down and placed under order by the regime to feed the entire assembly until its end.
In principle, delegates are meeting to approve the national budget and discuss economic and international issues. In reality, they are meeting to implement what the country’s dictator and inner circle have already decided. This year, the limelight will be on Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s third son who should be officially recognised as his father’s heir.
A first step has already been taken to that effect. According to the source, the “delegates as a group spontaneously chose to inspect the building of 100,000 homes,” a plan to improve Pyongyang under the supervision of the heir and his uncle Jang Sung-taek”. The latter, who is married to the dictator’s sister, is expected to act as regent to train the young Kim, 28, until he fully takes power.
In the meantime, North Korea is slowly dying. Amid international indifference, 30 per cent of the population lives just on a dollar every two days, which is the absolute minimum poverty line set by the World Bank. The countryside (already not well endowed) is being decimated by cold and hunger, which has been increasing in the past two seasons.
The disastrous bellicose policies of the two Kims have also forced South Korea and the United States, North Korea’s two largest donors, to stop sending humanitarian aid. The sinking of a South Korean navy ship and the shelling of a small control under South Korean control were a watershed.
A question mark still remains as to what the ‘dear leader’ will say at the assembly. It is unthinkable that “he will order any changes to the [nation’s] economic and military plans,” the source said. However, “He could limit the country’s aggressiveness, but the ‘juche’ ideology built by his father during Soviet times will force him to praise the ‘great progress’ of the Socialist nation.”