News / Asia

    North Korea's Parliamentary Move Fuels Speculation

    In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo, Kim Jong Un attends a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang.In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo, Kim Jong Un attends a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang.
    x
    In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo, Kim Jong Un attends a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang.
    In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo, Kim Jong Un attends a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang.
    North Korea has announced that its legislature is to meet again this month. There is considerable speculation in South Korea about the unusual reconvening of what is seen as the rubber-stamp parliament in Pyongyang.

    The announcement from North Korea's legislative authority came early Wednesday. A DPRK radio announcer said deputies of the Supreme People's Assembly are on notice to convene in Pyongyang on September 25 and to register there one or two days beforehand.

    In Seoul, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Park Soo-jin says while the re-convening of North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament twice in one year is unusual, it is not unprecedented.

    Park says there are two previous cases of the deputies meeting twice in the same year, most recently in 2010.

    The assembly also met twice in 2003. In some years under the previous leader, Kim Jong Il, it did not meet at all.

    In parliament's April session this year, Kim Jong Un was formally elected “first chairman” of the national defense commission, effectively securing his stature as the country's top leader.

    The assembly also named the late Kim Jong Il, the father of the current leader, as the defense commission's “eternal chairman.”

    South Korea's publicly-funded Yonhap news agency says it is highly likely this month's session of the North Korean legislature will announce new policies or unveil a shuffling of  the Cabinet or other organs of state.

    There is also speculation the legislators will sign into law a modified economic management policy which emerged in late June and is due to be implemented from next month. The new policy, most significantly, is designed to partly end rationing.

    South Korean professor Yang Moo-jin at the University of North Korean Studies says he expects the September 25 session in Pyongyang will focus on economic policy changes.

    Yang says the session is designed to demonstrate the stabilization of the Kim Jong Un regime and show determination to legally implement his plan for economic development as the new leader is emphasizing improving the lives of North Korean citizens.

    Intelligence analysts say a process is underway to strip North Korea's military of its control over major economic policies and place them under the Cabinet.

    A currency reform attempt amid rampant inflation three years ago failed.

    The impoverished state with few significant friends abroad, aside from China, continues to face dire challenges as one of the world's most centrally planned and closed economies. North Korea's gross domestic product is only three percent of South Korea's GDP.

    And now there is renewed concern among some international aid agencies about a worsening food situation in the North after a long dry spell which was followed by recent damaging floods.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora