Daily NK sources have reported that Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) representatives must arrive in Pyongyang between Apr. 4 and Apr. 5. 

“These representatives have been assigned lodgings at the Haebangsan Hotel in Pyongyang’s Central District and the Ponghwasan Hotel in the Moranbong District,” a Pyongyang-based source told Daily NK on Monday. 

“My understanding from what I hear is that the meeting will deal with the various problems that COVID-19 has caused for the economy and the livelihoods of the people,” he added. 

The SPA is North Korea’s highest legislative body and is responsible for enacting and amending the country’s constitution and laws, establishing basic principles governing national and foreign policies, appointing personnel to national organs, discussing plans regarding economic growth, and reviewing and adopting budget proposals. 

The Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) has real authority over major policy decisions, however. The SPA plays the role of a rubber-stamp parliament for decisions made at the highest levels of the party. 

The SPA has usually convened every year in March or April, but North Korea has held SPA sessions twice a year in 2012 and 2014, and again in 2019. 

“The session will likely prioritize discussion on construction projects in Pyongyang. Kim Jong Un’s recent order to build the Pyongyang General Hospital by Oct. 10 means that schedules of other construction projects in the city will have to change. Decisions related to these schedule changes will likely be made during the session,” another Pyongyang-based source told Daily NK.

The SPA session may also announce changes in the State Affairs Commission, the country’s highest decision-making body. In particular, the replacement of former Organization and Guidance Department head Ri Man Gon, who was recently dismissed on charges of corruption, may be announced at the meeting. 

North Korea’s move to go ahead with the SPA meeting stands in sharp contrast to restrictions on movement and gatherings in the country as part of efforts to combat COVID-19. The country has already skipped celebrations for Army Day (Feb. 8) and cancelled a mass rally for Kim Jong Il’s birthday (Feb. 16). 

“We have to convene the SPA because North Korea’s official story thus far is that not one case of COVID-19 infection has occurred in the country,” the Pyongyang-based source said.

*Translated by Violet Kim

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