Following a series of failed missile tests and a claim of a hydrogen bomb during the past few months, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is preparing his nation for an historic political gathering beginning Friday.
Known as the Congress of the Workers' Party, the last such gathering was in 1980 to present Kim's father, then-heir apparent Kim Jong Il.
Friday's event in one of the world's most secretive nations will be only the seventh party congress in the country's history. And regime changes could be unveiled, according to North Korea watchers. In particular, there could be announcements related to a broad generational shift to younger government officials and ruling elites.
"He wants to go into this congress and get rid of a lot of older generation people, and replace them with younger people," said Bruce Bennett, senior defense analyst at the Rand Corp. "What it appears that he's trying to do is to prove that he's in power, that's he's capable, that youth can now take this country to new heights."
Kim himself is believed to be his early 30s, and has been in charge since after the death of his father in late 2011.
And if a revolving door of top leaders is any indication since Kim's ascension, it seems lonely at the top — especially in a place like North Korea.
Kim, so far, doesn't appear to have the equivalent of a deputy or trusted number two man. In contrast, his late father's inner circle had included Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Un's late uncle who was executed in 2103. Jang had unique access in the ruling elite and was a go-between with Chinese leadership. He also ran a vast, multinational ring of state trading companies that generated income for the North. He was the equivalent of an entrepreneurial superstar and prince maker, according to experts.