IBTimes UK

Reclusive Communist state and condemned nuclear rogue North Korea is holding its seventh party Congress from 6 May.

The ruling Workers Party conference is being held after a long gap of 36 years and it is the first congress after leader Kim Jong-un was born.

The announcement of the rare party meeting came in the backdrop of increased pressure on North Korea to sustain its anti-US rhetoric and a failed missile launch that gave rise to speculation about a fifth nuclear test.

South Korea believes the Party Congress will be a trigger for Pyongyang's fifth nuclear test as the regime likes to mark momentous events with a show of military might.

Pyongyang has completed preparations for yet another nuclear test and could conduct it any time, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday.

The North threatened South Korea with preemptive nuclear strikes after Seoul's parliament passed after 11 years of dithering a human rights bill flaying the North.

While much of the outcome of the Congress will be translated into hollow threats and bitter saber-rattling, analysts expect clues on the direction of the country's policy moves, military strategy and nuclear programmes.

The last Party Congress had on its agenda the anointment of Kim Jong-il, the ruler's father, as the successor of Kim Il-Sung the supreme leader and the country's founder.

While there is no scope for such a momentous announcement it is expected that Kim Jong-un will use the Congress to buttress his role as the new 'Supreme Leader'.

Some analysts observe that the holding of a Party Congress after nearly four decades is an indication that Kim Jong-un is looking to reduce the opaqueness that was the hallmark of the regime of his father Kim Il-Jong.

The kick-starting of the party meeting, which was a regular feature under the Supreme Leader Kim Il-sung, will go a long way in making the country a more normal state and mark a departure from rule through back-channel dealings, Reuters cited experts as saying.

Who will attend and why

Thousands of party members will gather in Pyongyang on 6 May, looking to burnish their credentials as members of the ruling class and aiming to stay above the rest in a secretive political system bedevilled by paranoia.

A Reuters article has thrown some light into the life of a party worker in North Korea where even high ranking officials are executed for the flimsiest reasons.

It says the party cadres follow a strict regimen and attend lectures by leaders on all Wednesdays in the villages.

Kim is supposed to have issued orders to the cadres to rejuvenate the party structure ahead of the Congress.

Out of the 25 million population of the country, between three million and four million people are official members of the party.

According to North Korean defectors, the Workers Party members used to get better jobs and higher status in society.

Even tokenisms such as cleaning the statues of the Supreme leader and the Dear leader used to give party members a leg-up in the race for higher ranks.

Dwindling importance

And even the financial standing of a citizen improved if he was a party member. "At the top end of the economic scale, Party people are among those making the most money,' Reuters quoted a specialist in North Korea's economy as saying.

However, there is another view that the attractiveness of the party membership is slowly fading.

Analysts say the devastating famine of the 1990s changed the dynamics of party membership and role in economy fundamentally. Now a lot of people engage an informal network of markets to run businesses and make money, and not merely depend on the party structure.

"The pride people got from being a member of the Party has weakened. People only care about money now," an academic who works with North Korean defectors said.

IBTimes UK