North Korea's newspapers are heaping praise on the country's leader Kim Jong-un ahead of its key congressional gathering. The North is set to hold its seventh Congress of the Workers' Party on 6 May –the first in the nearly four decades – in a move to help the leader cement his rule in the country.
Pyongyang's main newspaper Rondong Sinmun hailed Kim as the "great sun of the 21st century" and listed all of his "achievements". The editorial did not miss the opportunity to censure UN sanctions.
The daily said that North Korea's nuclear weapon is a "precious sword" against the policies of Washington. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carried a similar report extolling the virtues of Kim. Notably, the leader was praised for his efforts to reduce the number of smokers in the country.
"The number of non-smokers is remarkably increasing with each passing day," said the KCNA. Ironically, it did not mention anything about Kim's smoking habit, even as he has been spotted holding a lit cigarette in several state-published photographs.
The reclusive North's congress will be first in a generation. The exact duration of the event is unclear, but it is expected to last several days.
It is also taking place at a time when there have been frequent flare-ups in the Korean peninsula primarily due to Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test and long-range rocket launch. The North is suspected to be working on its fifth nuclear test to coincide with the occasion.
Analysts are also looking at major policy announcements during the event to see whether there will be any recalibration in Kim's so-called Byungjin policy – the simultaneous development of both the nuclear arsenal and economic growth.