Constitution of North Korea
The Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the constitution of North Korea. It states that the country is socialist and lays out the framework of the national government and the functions of the ruling state party, the Workers' Party of Korea in relation to the Cabinet and Supreme People's Assembly (the country's parliament). The constitution is divided into 166 articles, split between three sections.
|Constitution of North Korea|
|Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea|
|Territorial extent||North Korea|
|Enacted by||Supreme People's Assembly|
|Passed||1972 (revised in 2016)|
|Status: In force|
|Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea|
|Revised Romanization||Joseon Minjujuui Inmin Gonghwagug Sahoejuui Heonbeob|
|McCune–Reischauer||Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwagung Sahoejuŭi Hŏnbŏp|
North Korea is also governed by the Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideological System, which some claim have come to supersede the constitution and in practice serve as the supreme law of the country.
The constitution designates the country as a socialist and revolutionary state, with the official name Democratic People's Republic of Korea. According to the constitution, the state "shall conduct all activities under the Workers' Party of Korea". While the constitution stipulates citizens' limited right to property — "meeting the simple and individual aims of the citizen" — its provisions of a planned economy state that the means of production are owned by the state and social cooperative organizations.
Article 12 defines the country as a "dictatorship of people's democracy" under the leadership of the WPK. It provides for civil and political rights, such as freedom of expression, the right to elect officials, the right to a fair trial, and freedom of religion. It asserts the right of every citizen to work, education, food, and healthcare. In practice, however, these rights are limited by Article 81, which requires that all citizens "firmly safeguard the political and ideological unity and solidarity of the people," and Article 82, which requires that citizens observe "the socialist standards of life."
Article 67 states: "Citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, demonstration and association. The State shall guarantee conditions for the free activity of democratic political parties and social organizations."
Although the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), the parliament of the country, is designated as the "highest organ of State power" by the constitution, the country is de facto a dictatorship under a supreme leader. One of the tasks of the SPA is to elect the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC; formerly National Defence Commission, NDC). Since the supreme leader is customarily elected to this post, the office can be considered the most senior position of authority.
The constitution can be amended or supplemented by a two-thirds majority in the SPA. In practice, any changes require the consent of the Chairman of the WPK (formerly the General Secretary), an office which the supreme leader holds as a rule. There is no judicial or constitutional review or an ombudsman.
1948 People's ConstitutionEdit
The first North Korean constitution was based on the 1936 Soviet Constitution. This constitution was adopted at the First SPA in September 1948. Joseph Stalin personally edited the constitution alongside Terentii Shtykov, de facto Soviet governor of North Korea, in Moscow. Some articles were later rewritten by Soviet supervisors. Under the 1948 constitution, the SPA was the highest organ in the state, while the Presidium of the SPA was responsible for initiating action and policymaking. Unlike later constitutions, the inaugural constitution does not grant a privileged status to the ruling WPK. The first constitution defined Seoul as the capital of the country, while later constitutions designate Pyongyang. The 1948 constitution became obsolete when it was replaced by a new constitution in 1972.
1972 Juche ConstitutionEdit
Proposing a DPRK new constitution had been discussed as early as 1960. However, in the changing international environment meant that North Korea could no longer postpone a constitutional revision. The WPK appointed a commission to draft a new constitution was established in October 1972. The need was elaborated by Kim Il-sung in his speech at the first session of the Fifth SPA on December 25, 1972:
...our realities today urgently demand the establishment of a new socialist constitution legally to consolidate the great achievements of our people in the socialist revolution and building of socialism and lay down principles for the political, economic, and cultural spheres in socialist society
The 1972 Constitution was adopted on 27 December. Under the new constitution, Kim Il-sung became the President of North Korea. He became the head of state serving as commander of the armed forces and chairman of the National Defense Committee, he had the power to issue edicts, grant pardons, and conclude or abrogate treaties. Under the old constitution, there was no one designated as the head of state. The chairman of the Presidium of the SPA represented the state which followed the Soviet practice. In contrast to the 1948 Soviet-style constitution, the 1972 Constitution introduced various North Korean concepts of governance. The constitution makes excessive references to the Juche ideology, leading Christopher Hale to conclude that "it would be accurate to call the constitution a Juche constitution".
Amendments to the 1972 Constitution were made in 1992.
1998 Kim Il-sung ConstitutionEdit
The 1998 "Kim Il-sung Constitution" abolished the position of President and appointed Kim Il-sung, who had died in 1994, the country's Eternal President. The 1998 constitution was the first one to include a preamble. The preamble recounts on the history of the country focusing on the person of Kim Il-sung.
2009 Songun ConstitutionEdit
The new, amended in 2009 version of DPRK Constitution is called the "Songun Constitution. It is six articles longer than the previous version adopted in of 1998. Section 2 of Chapter VI “Chairman of the National Defence Commission” is entirely new and the said post was constitutionally declared to be the supreme leader of North Korea. In Articles 29 and 40 (Economy and Culture respectively) the word 공산주의 (communism) was dropped.
2012 Kim Il-sung–Kim Jong-il ConstitutionEdit
The Constitution was again amended in 2012 during the 5th Session of the 12th SPA to include changes in the preamble that states the legacy of Kim Jong-il in nation building and North Korea being a "nuclear-armed state". Accordingly, the Constitution was named the "Kim Il-sung–Kim Jong-il Constitution". Section 2 of Chapter VI, and several articles and provisions were revised accordingly due to provisions of Articles 91 and 95 that provide for constitutional amendments that are to be done by the SPA in its plenary sessions.
The Constitution was amended on April 1, 2013.
The Constitution was amended in June 2016 following the 7th WPK Congress. It replaces the National Defence Commission (NDC) with the State Affairs Commission (SAC) placing Kim Jong-un as head of state. In part, the aim of the reorganization was to clarify the role of the SAC in overall state and economic policy, which the constitution previously assigned to the Cabinet.
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- 2009: Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House. 2010 [Amended and supplemented at the 1st Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on April 9, Juche 98 (2009)]. OCLC 855026478.
- 2013: Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House. 2014 [Amended and supplemented on April 1, Juche 102 (2013), at the Seventh Session of the Twelfth Supreme People's Assembly]. ISBN 978-9946-0-1099-1. Archived from the original on 8 July 2016.
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