North Korea announces rare, giant political gathering

Updated 2:29 AM EDT, Fri October 30, 2015
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un waves to the crowd during a military parade at Kim Il-Sung square marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean war armistice in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. North Korea mounted its largest ever military parade on July 27 to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War, displaying its long-range missiles at a ceremony presided over by leader Kim Jong-Un. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un waves to the crowd during a military parade at Kim Il-Sung square marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean war armistice in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. North Korea mounted its largest ever military parade on July 27 to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War, displaying its long-range missiles at a ceremony presided over by leader Kim Jong-Un. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:16
Why do North Koreans even vote?
Now playing
02:35
Photos show N. Korea improving nuclear facility
KCTV
Now playing
02:06
North Korea shakes up its military leadership
CNN
Now playing
02:51
CNN reporter's surreal journey inside N. Korea
Hyon Song-Wol (C), the leader of North Korea's popular Moranbong band, arrives at Seoul station in Seoul on January 21, 2018 before boarding a train bound for the eastern city of Gangneung.
North Korean delegates arrived in Seoul on January 21 on their way to inspect venues and prepare cultural performances for next month's Winter Olympics, in the first visit by Pyongyang officials to the South for four years. / AFP PHOTO / KOREA POOL / - / South Korea OUT        (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
-/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Hyon Song-Wol (C), the leader of North Korea's popular Moranbong band, arrives at Seoul station in Seoul on January 21, 2018 before boarding a train bound for the eastern city of Gangneung. North Korean delegates arrived in Seoul on January 21 on their way to inspect venues and prepare cultural performances for next month's Winter Olympics, in the first visit by Pyongyang officials to the South for four years. / AFP PHOTO / KOREA POOL / - / South Korea OUT (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:44
Who is North Korean pop star Hyon Song Wol?
north korea kim jung un new year speech hancocks lklv_00005209.jpg
Korean Central TV
north korea kim jung un new year speech hancocks lklv_00005209.jpg
Now playing
02:20
Kim Jong Un delivers New Year's address
Now playing
00:49
North Korea's largest textile factory
Now playing
00:51
Communal living in Pyongyang
Now playing
01:01
A glimpse of life in Pyongyang
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) inspecting a launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location.
Kim vowed to complete North Korea's nuclear force despite sanctions, saying the final goal of his country's weapons development is "equilibrium of real force" with the United States, state media reported on September 16.  NK leadership watch says:  Kim Jong Un watches a missile drill on September 15, 2017. Also in attendance behind him are Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol (Photo: KCNA).
STR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) inspecting a launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location. Kim vowed to complete North Korea's nuclear force despite sanctions, saying the final goal of his country's weapons development is "equilibrium of real force" with the United States, state media reported on September 16. NK leadership watch says: Kim Jong Un watches a missile drill on September 15, 2017. Also in attendance behind him are Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol (Photo: KCNA).
Now playing
02:33
Inside story of N. Korean smuggler's paradise
Now playing
00:56
The home of a North Korean Workers' Party member
A North Korean defector darts across the DMZ dividing the two Koreas in this screenshot of handout video provided by the United Nations Command.
United Nations Command
A North Korean defector darts across the DMZ dividing the two Koreas in this screenshot of handout video provided by the United Nations Command.
Now playing
03:05
Video shows North Korean defector's escape
North Korean soldiers (R) look at the South side while US Vice President Mike Pence (not pictured) visits the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border between North and South Korea on April 17, 2017.
Pence arrived at the gateway to the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas, in a show of US resolve a day after North Korea failed in its attempt to test another missile. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je        (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
North Korean soldiers (R) look at the South side while US Vice President Mike Pence (not pictured) visits the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border between North and South Korea on April 17, 2017. Pence arrived at the gateway to the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas, in a show of US resolve a day after North Korea failed in its attempt to test another missile. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:40
What it's really like to be inside North Korea
Kim Yo Jong, the youngest sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seen in March 2014.
KCNA via Getty Images
Kim Yo Jong, the youngest sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seen in March 2014.
Now playing
02:14
Kim Jong Un promotes his sister (2017)
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 29, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory, as his wife Ri Sol-Ju (R) looks on. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT   ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP.  /         (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
STR/AFP/Getty Images
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 29, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory, as his wife Ri Sol-Ju (R) looks on. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:08
Kim Jong Un's wife makes rare public appearance
KCTV
Now playing
00:44
Watch: N. Korea performance shows US in flames

Story highlights

The last congress of the Workers' Party of Korea was in 1980

Kim Jong Un's father Kim Jong Il was announced then as the next leader of North Korea

Party congresses are momentous occasions in North Korea

(CNN) —  

North Korea has announced plans for a rare, potentially significant occasion for next year. It will convene its seventh communist party congress.

The Workers’ Party of Korea hasn’t held one since 1980, and that one peaked with the announcement that Kim Jong Il, the father of the country’s current leader, would take the reigns of power. The next congress will come in May, North Korea’s official news agency KCNA reported on Thursday.

Why the Political Bureau, which Kim Jong Un heads, called the congress has triggered speculation. They were once more common but ceased once his father took power.

The official reason for the congress given in KCNA’s report was that it was “reflecting the demand of the party and the developing revolution.”

The congress may be intended to bolster the perception that Kim has a stable hold on power, said Yang Moo-jin from South Korea’s University of North Korean Studies. Kim may announce economic reforms or new diplomatic relations.

Or it could reflect a shift in internal power from the military to the party.

“When Kim Jong Il was in power…the ‘National Defense Commission’ played a key-role in state affairs. The holding of the 7th Congress could symbolize that the Worker’s Party’s role was normalized. One of the key things to watch is whether Kim Jong Un will maintain the ‘National Defense Commission’ system or shift the function back to the party,” Yang said.

Earlier this month, North Korea celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of its communist party with an opulent military parade billed as its biggest ever.

North Korea practices its own brand of communist ideology called Juche, which propagates nationalist self-reliance as opposed to internationalism, which is a core principal of Marxist-Leninist communism.

CNN’s K.J. Kwon reported from Seoul, South Korea, and Ben Brumfield reported and wrote from Atlanta.