With North Korean leader Kim Jong-un calling a Worker’s Party of Korea Congress—just the seventh in the Hermit Kingdom’s history—to begin Friday, speculation is running rampant as to the meaning of the significant development. At the last congress, convened in 1980, the nation’s founder, Kim Il-sung, declared his son, Kim Jong-il—Kim Jong-un’s father—as his heir. Jong-il took over in 1994 upon Il-sung’s death.

North Korea faces tightening sanctions over its clandestine nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Even China, its closest ally, signed off on the latest round of withering penalties.

But now, as the secretive nation ramps up its testing and takes an even more aggressive posture with its Democratic neighbor, South Korea, there is growing concern about what the calling of a party congress could mean. READ MORE