Seoul, South Korea Huge posters plastered across the North Korean capital hailed the nation’s biggest political convention in 30 years as a historic event as the world watched Monday for signs that the country’s next leader was making his public debut.
Party delegates from all corners of North Korea were gathering in Pyongyang, state media said. Thousands practiced waving pink and red plastic flowers in a weekend rehearsal of celebrations at Kim Il Sung Square, China’s Xinhua news agency said.
The capital was festooned with posters urging North Koreans to “make this a festive event that will shine in the history of our country and people.” One North Korean professor told broadcaster Associated Press Television News the party meeting marked a “turning point” for the communist nation.
However, there was no confirmation Monday that the convention, slated to take place in “early September,” had begun, with the timing kept secret as is typical of the North Korean regime.
The gathering is the Workers’ Party’s first major meeting since the landmark 1980 congress where Kim Jong Il made his public debut as North Korea’s future leader. He took over after his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, died of heart failure in 1994 in what was communism’s first hereditary transfer of power.