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Politics of North Korea

The North Korean government uses propaganda pictures like this one to get support from the public. This is a propaganda picture opposing the United States. In the picture, a North Korean soldier is destroying the United States Capitol

North Korea has a centralized government under the rigid control of the communist Korean Workers' Party (KWP), to which all government officials belong. A few minor political parties are allowed to exist in name only. Kim Il Sung ruled North Korea from 1948 until his death in July 1994. Kim served both as Secretary General of the KWP and as President of North Korea.

Little is known about the actual lines of power and authority in the North Korean Government despite the formal structure set forth in the constitution. Following the death of Kim Il Sung, his son--Kim Jong Il--was named General Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party in October 1997, and in September 1998, the SPA reconfirmed Kim Jong Il as Chairman of the National Defense Commission and declared that position as the "highest office of state." North Korea's 1972 constitution was amended in late 1992. The government is led by the president and, in theory, a super cabinet called the Central People's Committee (CPC).

In practice, North Korea is a totalitarian dictatorship.

The constitution designates the CPC as the government's top policymaking body. It is headed by the president, who also nominates the other committee members. The CPC makes policy decisions and supervises the cabinet, or State Administration Council (SAC). The SAC is headed by a premier and is the dominant administrative and executive agency.

Supreme People's Assembly

Officially, the legislature, the Supreme People's Assembly, is the highest organ of state power. Its members are "elected" every 4 years. Usually only two meetings are held annually, each lasting a few days. A standing committee elected by the SPA performs legislative functions when the Assembly is not in session. In reality, the Assembly serves only to ratify decisions made by the ruling KWP.

"Representatives of the Supreme People's Assembly are not elected by a free election. Instead, the Workers' Party selects an ardent party member with good background for each election district and nominates him or her as a single candidate. Then, voters are required to say yea to a candidate. Therefore, the Supreme People's Assembly, in its nature, is completely different from the legislature of a Western country. [1]

North Korea's judiciary is "accountable" to the SPA and the president. The SPA's standing committee also appoints judges to the highest court for 4-year terms that are concurrent with those of the Assembly.

Administratively, North Korea is divided into nine provinces and four provincial-level municipalities--Pyongyang, Chongjin, Nampo, and Kaesong. It also appears to be divided into nine military districts.

Country name:
conventional long form: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
conventional short form: North Korea
local long form: Choson-minjujuui-inmin-konghwaguk
local short form: none
note: the North Koreans generally use the term "Choson" to refer to their country
abbreviation: DPRK

Data code: KN

Government type: authoritarian socialist; one-man dictatorship

Capital: P'yŏngyang

Administrative divisions:
(Main article: Administrative divisions of Korea. For historical information, see Provinces of Korea and Special cities of Korea)
3 Directly Governed Cities (Chik'alshi, singular and plural), 3 special administrative regions, and 9 provinces (Do, singular and plural): P'yŏngyang Chik'alshi; Namp'o Chik'alshi; Rasŏn (Rajin-Sŏnbong) Chik'alshi; Shinŭiju Teukbyeol Haengjeonggu ("Shinŭiju Special Administrative Region"); Kaesŏng Kongŏp Chigu ("Kaesŏng Industrial Region"); Kŭmgang-san Kwangwang Chigu ("Kŭmgang-san Tourist Region"); Chagang-do; Hamgyŏng-bukto (North Hamgyŏng), Hamgyŏng-namdo (South Hamgyŏng); Hwanghae-bukto (North Hwanghae); Hwanghae-namdo (South Hwanghae); Kangwŏn-do; P'yŏngan-bukto (North P'yŏngan); P'yongan-namdo (South P'yŏngan); Yanggang-do

Independence: 9 September 1948, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Foundation Day
note: 15 August 1945, date of independence from the Japanese and celebrated in North Korea as National Liberation Day

National holiday: Foundation Day, 9 September (1948)

Constitution: adopted 1948, completely revised 27 December 1972, revised again in April 1992 and September 1998

Legal system: based on German civil law system with Japanese influences and Communist legal theory; no judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. Practices a system of collective family culpability for crimes of one member.

Suffrage: 17 years of age; universal; nominal (North Korea is a dictatorship); However, under North Korea's heredity-based system of dividing the population into 3 main groups and 51 sub-groups based on loyalty to the present regime, large numbers of the population are prevented from receiving post-secondary education or exercising any real political power by their 'bad family background'.

Executive branch:
chief of state: KIM Chong-il (since NA July 1994); note - in September 1998, KIM Chong-il was reelected Chairman of the National Defense Commission, a position accorded the nation's "highest administrative authority"; KIM Young-nam was named President of the Supreme People's Assembly Presidium and given the responsibility of representing the state and receiving diplomatic credentials
head of government: Premier HONG Song-nam (since 5 September 1998)
cabinet: Cabinet (Naegak), members, except for the Minister of People's Armed Forces, are appointed by the Supreme People's Assembly
elections: premier elected by the Supreme People's Assembly; election last held NA 1998 (next to be held NA)
election results: HONG Song-nam elected premier; percent of Supreme People's Assembly vote - NA

Legislative branch: unicameral Supreme People's Assembly or Ch'oego Inmin Hoeui (687 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 26 July 1998 (next to be held NA 2003)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - the KWP approves a single list of candidates who are elected without opposition; minor parties hold a few seats

Judicial branch: Central Court, judges are elected by the Supreme People's Assembly

Political parties and leaders: Chondoist Chongu Party [YU Mi-yong, chairwoman]; Korean Social Democratic Party [KIM Pyong-sik, chairman]; major party - Korean Workers' Party or KWP [KIM Chong-il, General Secretary]

International organization participation: ESCAP, FAO, ICAO, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation in the US: none; note - North Korea has a Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, headed by YI Hyong-chol

Diplomatic representation from the US: none (Swedish Embassy in P'yongyang represents the US as consular protecting power)

Flag description: three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; the red band is edged in white; on the hoist side of the red band is a white disk with a red five-pointed star

See also : North Korea