North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is poised to declare his signature ruling policy during a rare party congress in May and despite tough new UN sanctions it is likely to be the twin pursuit of nuclear prowess and economic development.
North Korea's official media have carried almost-daily reports and commentary extolling the "sacred road" to the day Kim's leadership will be endorsed at the "victorious and glorious 7th party congress."
The highlight of the congress, the first in 36 years, will likely be the formal adoption of Kim's signature "byongjin policy," said Cho Min, an expert on the isolated North's leadership and former vice president of the South Korean government-run Korea Institute for National Unification.
Byongjin means "simultaneous push" - in North Korea's case for economic development and nuclear weapons capability. It follows Kim's father's Songun, or "military first," policy and his grandfather's Juche, the North's home-grown founding ideology that combines Marxism and extreme nationalism.
"He [Kim Jong Un] doesn't look willing to back down on nuclear armament and the congress is the place for maximum impact if he wants to declare it to the world," Cho said, adding another nuclear test is "worryingly" likely in the run-up to the meeting.
North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6, leading to new United Nations Security Council sanctions earlier this month, backed by Pyongyang's sole major ally, Beijing.
Kim Jong Un, believed to be 33, is likely to continue taking steps to restore the party as the center of the administration and could possibly announce measures to lift restrictions on the thriving informal economy.
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute, said Kim appears "obsessed with nuclear weapons development," which he views as cost-effective compared to expenditure on a conventional military and weapons, allowing him to save resources he can divert to light industries.
"Under Kim Jong Un, things have improved in terms of the economy," Cheong added. "More bicycles are on the road and there's more fish and more greenhouses."