16:13 GMT28 January 2021
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    The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is likely to face a new challenge in January when Joe Biden is sworn in as US president. The Democratic president-elect has promised to take a tougher stance against Pyongyang than outgoing US President Donald Trump.

    During a Tuesday meeting of the Political Bureau of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) presided over by party chairman Kim Jong Un, the leadership body decided to hold its first party congress in four years.

    According to Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the bureau “made exhaustive discussion” and decided upon qualifications for party delegates to be selected by party bodies to attend the congress, as well as how the congress would select its leadership bodies, and deliberated on the documents to be presented at the congress.

    At the meeting, the Political Bureau also discussed the various achievements made in the “80-day campaign,” a massive, nationwide effort announced in October to help the country recover from some of the natural disasters it had suffered during 2020, including catastrophic flooding brought by several typhoons.

    Among those efforts have been reconstruction of the Huichon and Taedonggang hydroelectric dams and the construction of new housing for families who lost their homes when rivers swelled over their banks.

    According to Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency, the congress will be the party’s first in four years and is likely to yield updated economic and foreign policy plans for the country.

    One of the stickier issues for Pyongyang was resolved earlier this month when the South Korean parliament voted to ban activists from launching balloons carrying propaganda leaflets across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas. Their earlier refusal led the DPRK to sever relations with the South, and in a dramatic display of how seriously the matter was taken, the North blew up the liaison office in Kaesong that had symbolized the historic rapprochement of recent years.

    However, Biden’s inauguration next month could present another new problem for Pyongyang, as he has promised to deviate from Trump’s policy of negotiation since 2019. After a stormy display of military chest-beating early in his presidency, Trump later held three peace summits with Kim and became the first sitting US president to enter the DPRK when he briefly crossed the intra-Korean border inside the DMZ with Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In.

    During an October election debate with Trump, Biden called Kim a “thug” and compared him to German fascist leader Adolf Hitler. He claimed Trump’s conciliatory approach had “legitimized” the DPRK and promised only to meet with Kim if he agreed to reduce the North Korean nuclear arsenal prior to the summit.


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    Joe Biden, rebuilding, flooding, South Korea, Kim Jong-un, Communist Party Congress, DPRK
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