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North Korea banning people over age 59 from Party Congress, source says

SEOUL, March 30 (UPI) —North Korea is to hold its first Workers’ Party Congress in 36 years, and Kim Jong Un is banning older cadres from attending.

A source in North Korea’s North Hamgyong Province told Japanese news service Asia Press that the regime is planning a major generational change and that bureaucrats from previous ruling periods have not been invited to take part in the upcoming congress.

“The first-round list of representatives was finalized on March 24,” the source said, adding that each government department will be represented by one or two people, and state-owned enterprises are to each send three representatives.

None of the representatives at the congress are to be of 60 years of age or over, the source added.

Jiro Ishimaru, the founder of Asia Press, said there has never been an instance where the party selected attendees on the basis of age.

“It appears the central leadership [Kim Jong Un] considered the age limit of 60 on principle, and made the selections accordingly,” Ishimaru said.

The Japanese journalist said in authoritarian societies like North Korea it is difficult to replace older cadres if no age limit is placed on terms in office.

The decision on the age criteria reflects Pyongyang’s desire to turn over a new leaf – and hand power over to a younger generation, Ishimaru said.

The rare Party Congress was last held in 1980, when Kim’s grandfather Kim Il Sung was in power.

North Korea has encouraged the country to pursue radical militaristic ideas, and mass rallies have taken place across the country.

Experts have also said Pyongyang’s announced nuclear test and rocket launch are a preparation for the Congress.

KCNA has issued a statement that celebrations are underway ahead of the May event.

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