North Korea to convene rubber-stamp parliament in Sept

FILE PHOTO: The Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea's parliament, convenes in Pyongyang

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly, will convene on Sept. 26 to discuss organisational matters and other issues, state media said on Thursday, as the country slowly reopens after years of pandemic lockdowns.

The North's parliament rarely meets and usually serves to approve decisions on issues such as governing structures and budgets that have been created by the state's ruling Workers' Party, members of which form the vast majority of the assembly.

The planned meeting comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un blasted top officials last week for their "irresponsible" response to flood damage, saying they had "spoiled" the national economy.

Kim has said such irresponsibility and lack of discipline from officials were "mainly attributable to the feeble work attitude and wrong viewpoint of the premier of the cabinet," raising speculation over a personnel reshuffle.

The North has suffered serious food shortages in recent decades, including famine in the 1990s, often as a result of natural disasters. International experts have warned that border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic worsened matters, while international sanctions and the North's focus on developing its missile and nuclear programmes have also contributed.

The agenda of the upcoming parliamentary session will include laws on the irrigation, public servants, people with disabilities, and the law enforcement in the financial sector, news agency KCNA said.

The decision was made at a Plenary Meeting of the parliament's Standing Committee on Wednesday, where members also discussed a law for "revitalizing domestic tourism and expanding international tourism simultaneously."

North Korea has recently approved the return of its citizens who were abroad after years of strict border restrictions, state media reported on Sunday as the isolated country cracks open its border to passenger travel.

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)