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Kim Jong Un skips criticism of U.S. at Supreme People's Assembly

By Elizabeth Shim
Kim Jong Un skips criticism of U.S. at Supreme People's Assembly
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang on Thursday. Photo by KCNA

April 11 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un stayed away from directly criticizing the United States on Thursday at the 14th Supreme People's Assembly, a day after state media reported he urged officials to exercise self-reliance.

Kim again emphasized North Korean self-reliance at Pyongyang's parliament, which also has the authority to direct all state institutions, including the executive branch and the judiciary. He mentioned the term 25 times, South Korean newspaper Seoul Shinmun reported.

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"It is necessary to seriously damage the hostile forces who think they can subdue us with sanctions," Kim said. "We will do this by making further progress on socialist construction under the banner of self-reliance, and on the foundation of an independent people's economy."

Shin Beom-chul, director of the Center for Security and Unification at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, told Seoul Shinmun the expression of "damage" or strike does not mean North Korea wants to return to provocations, but rather through self-reliance overcome the sanctions imposed on the regime.

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Kim mentioned self-reliance, and a new "strategic line" on April 20, 2018, during the third plenary meeting of the seventh central committee of the Korean Workers' Party. It refers to economic construction.

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The 14th assembly on Thursday included elections of officials to state institutions.

Pyongyang's state-controlled KCNA reported Pak Pong Ju, North Korea's prime minister, was reassigned to a vice chairman position in the central committee of the Workers' Party.

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The reshuffling could mean Pyongyang could soon find a replacement for the prime minister, according to Yonhap.

Pak recently assessed North Korean infrastructure in South Hwanghae Province.

Seoul's unification ministry said the reshuffling is being "monitored," adding it is uncommon for a vice chairman of the North Korean committee to concurrently serve as prime minister.

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Kim was also seen on Thursday sitting on a raised platform and alone. At the third plenary meeting of the seventh central committee of the Workers' Party in April 2018, Kim sat with top officials to his left and right.

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