North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's recent nuclear weapon test was designed to boost his domestic legitimacy ahead of a rare ruling party conference in May that could formalize market-based economic experiments in the isolated country, analysts say.

The Workers' Party Congress, once a regular event, was last held in 1980.

Although violent, the years since Kim took power following his father's death in late 2011 have moved the country toward increased stability and a return to a more "formal" way of running the country, said Michael Madden, an expert on the North Korean leadership.