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Thursday, February 4, 2016, 15:32

DPRK ruling party convenes meeting to rout corruption

By Associated Press
DPRK ruling party convenes meeting to rout corruption

In this Oct 10, 2015 photo, DPRK leader Kim Jong-un delivers remarks at a military parade in Pyongyang, DPRK. (Photo / Wong Maye-E, AP)

TOKYO - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea leader Kim Jong-un presided over a meeting of senior ruling party officials aimed at rooting out corruption and abuses of power ahead of a major congress to be held in May, its state media reported Thursday, calling the gathering the first of its kind.

The meeting this week focused on strengthening the ruling party and criticized "the practices of seeking privileges, misuse of authority, abuse of power and bureaucratism," according to a report by the Korean Central News Agency.

It is unusual for the DPRK's state-controlled media to make note of such problems within the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, which Kim heads and which has been in power since the founding of the DPRK in 1948.

The two-day meeting, which ended Wednesday and was "guided" by Kim, brought together members of the ruling party's Central Committee and the Party Committee of the Korean People's Army.

Though the article did not elaborate on the problems or suggested solutions, outside experts have long speculated that corruption and power abuse within the party are widespread and have been worsening in recent years amid the growth of a quasi-legal capitalist-style marketization of the North's officially socialist and centrally-directed economy.

In its annual report released last month, the DPRK and Somalia were listed at the top of Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for the second-straight year as the most corrupt governments in the world, scoring only 8 points on a scale of 100.

The meeting was held as world attention is focused on the DPRK's Jan 6 nuclear test, which it claims was the first of a hydrogen bomb, and its announcement it will launch a rocket this month to put its second Earth observation satellite in orbit. The UN Security Council is now discussing whether to slap new sanctions on the North over the nuclear test, which violated UN resolutions already in place.

The DPRK's ruling regime, meanwhile, is heavily focused on preparing for the 7th Party Congress, a major event that will be closely watched for signs of new policies or priorities that could provide insights into how Kim — who assumed power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in late 2011 — intends to deal with his country's economy, domestic political issues and external relations.

The KCNA article said the congress, the first since more than 3,000 delegates gathered for the 6th Congress in 1980, will "be recorded as a new landmark in the history of the party."

It said Kim told this week's gathering that the party is faced with "manifold difficulties and ordeals," but added that he said "nobody in the world can block our way."

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