The 7th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), the ruling party of North Korea, was held on 6–9 May 2016.
|Date||6 May 2016–9 May 2016|
|Location||April 25 House of Culture, Pyongyang, North Korea|
|Outcome||Election of the Party Chairman, 7th Central Committee and 7th Central Auditing Commission|
|7th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea|
|Revised Romanization||Joseollodongdang je7cha daehoe|
|McCune–Reischauer||Chosŏllodongdang che7ch'a taehoe|
The 7th Congress was the first Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea held since the 6th Congress in 1980. In 2010 the party rules stipulation that Congresses be held every five years was dropped, recognising this had been ignored for thirty years.
On 30 October 2015, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea announced a decision to hold a Congress in early May 2016, saying:
The Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee decides to convene the 7th Congress of the WPK early in May Juche 105 (2016), reflecting the demand of the party and the developing revolution that witness epoch-making changes in accomplishing the revolutionary cause of Juche, the cause of building a thriving socialist nation.
The Congress was preceded by a "70-day battle" mass mobilization campaign. Human Right Watch claims that the campaign meant uncompensated and forced labor for people across the country, including children, and that the object of the campaign was to boost outputs in manufacture and agriculture and demonstrate loyalty. A five-day holiday was declared for the duration of the Congress.
The Congress was opened on 6 May 2016 at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang, in the presence of 3,467 voting delegates. Unlike the last congress, there were no major foreign delegations, but 128 foreign journalists from 12 countries were allowed to cover the event. Reporters were kept outside of the venue, and a recording of the opening event was only televised later in the evening.
The Congress opened with an address by Kim Jong-un. In it, he praised the country's January 2016 nuclear test and satellite launch. After having chosen its presidium and secretariat, the Congress approved its agenda:
- Review of the work of the 6th Central Committee
- Review of the work of the 6th Central Auditing Commission
- Revision of the WPK Charter
- Election of Kim Jong-un to the leadership of the WPK
- Election of members to the central leadership organs of the WPK
The Congress continued on 7 May with Kim Jong-un's report on the work of the 6th Central Committee. In the report, Kim Jong-un reiterated the country's nuclear policy, calling it "a responsible nuclear weapons state". According to Kim, North Korea would not use nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty was violated. With regards to the economy, Kim announced the country's first Five-Year Plan since the 1980s. Speeches by other delegates expressed support for Kim's report.
A decision on approving Kim's report was unanimously adopted on 9 May. In it, the party vowed to continue building a more extensive nuclear arsenal. A report on the work of the Central Auditing Commission was then heard.
On the 9th, foreign journalists were briefly let in the Congress venue for the first time, during the announcement of Kim Jong-un's election as Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea. The Congress ended on the 9th, and the day also saw a huge parade in Pyongyang in its honor.
On May 9, Kim Jong-un was re-elected to the leadership of the party. His title in this capacity was changed from First Secretary to Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, a title reminiscent of that held by his grandfather before 1966: Chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.
15 members were elected to the 7th Central Auditing Commission: Choe Sung-ho, Pak Myong-sun, Kim Kyong-nam, Hwang Chol-sik, Kim Yong-chol, Ri Yong-ik, Kim Myong-hun, Kye Yong-sam, Jo Jong-ho, Kye Myong-chol, Jang Jong-ju, Pho Hui-song, Jong Pong-sok, Choe Kwon-su and Ho Kwang-uk. The Commission soon convened and chose as its Chairman Choe Sung-ho and Vice-Chairwoman Pak Myong-sun.
129 members and 106 alternate members were elected to the 7th Central Committee, including Kim Jong-un. It held its first plenum immediately after the Congress, on 10 May, and elected officials.
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- Photos from the opening day at Rodong Sinmun
- Kim Jong-un's opening address at KCNA Watch
- Text from Kim Jong Un's Report before the Congress at KCNA Watch
- Documents from the 7th Workers' Party Congress at The National Committee on North Korea