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N. Korea spends over $200 mln on Workers' Party congress: scholar

All Headlines 16:12 May 13, 2016

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea probably spent more than US$200 million on the just-ended ruling party congress, which will further burden the already impoverished country, a local scholar who keeps track of developments in the reclusive country said Friday.

Korea University's Nam Sung-wook made the claim in an analysis of the four daylong Seventh Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) that ended Monday. He described the rare convention as a "political show."

Nam's analysis will be formally introduced at a Korean unification forum Monday in Seoul.

In the assessment, the academic argued the communist country spent at least the amount he estimated in the past six months for the "self coronation" of leader Kim Jong-un.

He said the move's sole aim seems to be the consolidation of the hereditary power succession. The current leader inherited the country after the sudden death of his father in late 2011, while the late Kim Jong-il took over after his own father, the North's founder Kim Il-sung, died in July 1994.

"Ultimately, the huge amount of money spent will result in a greater burden for North Koreans," he said.

However, he did not elaborate on the details of the expenses.

The professor also said that more than 5,000 people, including 3,467 delegates to the WPK congress, participated in the event as extras so the country can declare the continuation of the Kim dynasty.

In the WPK congress, Kim assumed the new title of chairman of the Workers' Party and made clear that North Korea has no intention of rolling back its nuclear ambitions despite international sanctions following its fourth nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

Kim declared at the congress that the ultimate guiding principle of his regime is to pursue the building of the country's nuclear force in tandem with the economy.

The North Korean expert then said North Korea had launched a 1960s style "speed war" called the "70-day campaign" ahead of the party congress, adding the people's hardships will be further aggravated as the country will squeeze them for results in its new five-year economic development plan.

In another paper, professor Yang Moon-soo of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said the Pyongyang regime will likely pursue a market-friendly economic policy for the time being.

Cho Bong-hyun, a researcher at the state-run Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK), on the other hand, said the five-year economic development plan issued by Kim Jong-un at the party congress will turn out to be a failure and will eventually come to haunt the regime down the road.
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