North Korea Just Temporarily Banned Weddings, Funerals, And Leaving Pyongyang

The U.S. and its allies will be watching closely for major military or economic policy changes from Kim.

In March, the UN Security Council approved its toughest sanctions yet on the nation, with an aim to withhold funds being used to finance the state's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, following a series of military tests this year.

The statement came after North Korea's failed attempts to fire missiles this week, and days before Kim Jong Un's regime is scheduled to hold its first ruling party congress in decades.

North Korea has in the past taken such steps ahead of major events and has at times also shut down its border with China for the same reason, Cheong said.

PYONGYANG, Korea, Democratic People's Republic Of - North Korea stepped up its calls Tuesday for South Korea to return 12 waitresses whom Pyongyang says Seoul abducted from a restaurant in China.

It is thought that Kim Jong-un will use the party congress to cement his leadership.

The Supreme Court of North Korea on Friday sentenced South Korean man with American citizenship to 10 years of hard labour for espionage after he reportedly confessed to spying.

While his father first promoted the idea that North Korea should have nuclear weapons, it was Kim Jong Il who made this idea a reality and ordered the country's first nuclear test, in 2006.

Seoul's Unification Ministry had approved the travel plans of South Korea's labor unions to North Korea.

South Korea, meanwhile, has warned another nuclear test may be in the offing, though open-source satellite imagery is inconclusive and Seoul's predictions are often wrong.

However North Korean foreign minister Ri Su-yong said that the economy will form an important part of the party congress. His father Kim Jong-il didn't hold one, but analysts say the young leader is looking to legitimize his rule by restoring the party's authority.

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