The timing of North Korea’s forthcoming and unusually-timed Plenary Meeting, which is scheduled to take place “in the last 10 days” of December, appears to have broken from precedence under Kim Jong Un’s leadership.
With the North hosting an expanded meeting of the Central Military Commission (CMC) according to December 22 reports in the Rodong Sinmun, it was anticipated by analysts that the Plenary Meeting or plenum would take place soon after.
“Three days have elapsed since state media on December 22 reported on a CMC meeting, which almost certainly was held to set the stage for the party plenum,” said NK Pro senior analyst Minyoung Lee.
“Under Kim Jong Un, when two party meetings or one party meeting and a Supreme People’s Assembly SPA session were held consecutively, the two events were held within a day or two of each other,” Lee said.
As a result, unless unexpected delays are revealed in the days ahead, the timing of the plenum will likely be held in the latter half of the DPRK’s allocated window for the event.
Consequently, it reduces the amount of time between news of the plenum outcome, the potential “Christmas gift” North Korea might reveal to the U.S., and Kim Jong Un’s anticipated New Year Address.
But this may be an intentional tactic: increasing pressure on the Trump administration about what might be on the horizon while leaving a small window open for the Trump administration to engage Pyongyang.
Lee said there could be both external and domestic factors at play when understanding the prolonged interval between the CMC meeting and the plenum.
“For example, externally, the North may be engaged in diplomatic communications with China or even the U.S. that could have implications for the plenum agenda,” she said.
“Domestically, Kim Jong Un may have needed more time to work in some content from the CMC meeting into his party plenum speech, or to make up his mind on some difficult issues.”
Alternatively, “it could be as simple as North Korea prolonging the wait to maximize the effect of the party plenum decisions, as it is well aware of the amount of interest in this party plenum.”
The slow-down on news about the plenum comes as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and top envoy for talks with the DPRK Stephen Biegun wrapped up talks in South Korea, Japan, and China last week, without apparent success in communicating with the North ahead of Kim Jong Un’s end-of-year deadline.
But it does come as a source “familiar with the North Korean leadership’s current mindset” told CNN on Tuesday not to expect ICBM tests, satellite launches, or nuclear detonations from the North any time soon.
The source said those events could be “too provocative for the likes of China and Russia, Pyongyang’s two most important international trading partners.”
Instead, the source said the North was planning to adopt a hard-line policy toward the U.S. that involves “taking denuclearization off the table amid perceptions that President Donald Trump is vulnerable politically,” CNN reported.
An informed source told NK News the leaked DPRK leadership intentions may have been an eleventh-hour bid to “stop U.S. overreaction” at an increasingly sensitive time.
With the North hosting an expanded meeting of the Central Military Commission (CMC) according to December 22 reports in the Rodong Sinmun, it was anticipated by analysts that the