Pyongyang holds key parliamentary meeting without leader Kim Jong-un

Seoul, Jan 19 (EFE).- North Korea held a two-day parliamentary meeting to discuss mainly budgetary issues that leader Kim Jong-un did not attend, state news agency KCNA reported Thursday.

The 8th Session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly – the North Korean parliament – was held between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Present at the meeting was Premier Kim Tok Hun and Ri Pyong Chol, a key figure in the country’s nuclear and missile program.

The North Korean parliamentary session was held amid escalated tensions after a record number of missile tests by Pyongyang in the last few weeks of 2022 in retaliation to joint maneuvers by Seoul and Washington.

There were speculations that, through the meeting, Kim would send a message to the international community or address his country’s weapons and nuclear development program.

However, the North Korean parliamentary session focused on domestic issues, such as a review of the implementation of the state budget for 2022 and the budget for 2023, organizational matters, and the adoption of a law for the protection of the “Pyongyang dialect.”

This latest measure is seen as another attempt by the regime to prevent foreign influences from taking root.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the regime had already warned against the use of foreign words, in clear reference to the Korean spoken in the South and to which North Koreans have access through audiovisual content that is smuggled into the isolated country.

The Supreme People’s Assembly, considered a de facto parliament whose role is to endorse the decisions of the regime’s leadership, approved a year-on-year increase of 1.7 percent in the budget for 2023, without mentioning the exact figure.

It also agreed to raise the budget for the economic sector by 1.2 percent.

Defense spending was kept at 15.9 percent of the total budget for 2023, the same as last year.

Kim Jong-un has vowed to bolster the country’s defensive capabilities this year, ordering an exponential increase in nuclear warheads and the development of advanced systems.

The parliament also decided to allocate 45 percent of this year’s budget to the development of the economy, affected by international sanctions and the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic, and towards improving people’s standard of living, according to KCNA. EFE


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