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List of leaders of North Korea

This article lists the political leaders of North Korea, officially called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Contents

OverviewEdit

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union occupied the northern half of Korea and in 1946 established the Provisional People's Committee for North Korea chaired by Kim Il-sung. On 9 September 1948, the DPRK was proclaimed, also led by Kim Il-sung.

The supreme leaders of the DPRK have been Kim Il-sung, his son Kim Jong-il, and his grandson Kim Jong-un. In this role they have not held consistent titles, though they were each leaders of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) — titled as Chairman from 1948 to 1966, General Secretary from 1966 to 2011, First Secretary from 2011 to 2016, and finally Chairman again since 2016 — for almost all of their period in power. Even though they have the appearance of a dynasty, there is no formal succession.

From 1948 to 1972, the nominal head of state was the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA). In 1972, the constitution was amended to create an executive presidency. Kim Il-sung, who had served as Premier of North Korea since the DPRK's inception, was unanimously elected President of North Korea by the Supreme People's Assembly on December 28. He held this office until his death on 8 July 1994 when he was proclaimed the "Eternal President of the Republic". Since then, the practical functions of the head of state have been exercised by the President of the Presidium of the SPA.

After the death of Kim Il-sung, his son Kim Jong-il was understood to have inherited his father's near-absolute control over the country. Although he had been his father's designated successor since at least 1991, it took him three years to fully consolidate his power. He was elected general secretary of the party in 1997, and was reelected Chairman of the National Defence Commission (NDC) in 1998. During his rule he was given a range of titles. He ruled the country until his death on 17 December 2011. He was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un, who was revealed to be in charge of the country since his father's death by the Rodong Sinmun and finally publicly acknowledged as supreme leader at the military review ending Kim Jong-il's funeral on 29 December 2011.

The government is headed by the Premier of the Cabinet, formerly called Premier of the Administration Council.

Other important institutions include the SPA, whose sessions are chaired by the Chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly, and, since 1993, the Chairman of the NDC–since 2016, known as the State Affairs Commission–which holds supreme command of the DPRK's armed forces.

While two other parties, the Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party, nominally exist, only the WPK holds any power at the national level. The other parties, and indeed all other mass organizations in the country, are completely subservient to the WPK. They exist solely to keep up the appearance that the country is a pluralist society. Almost nothing is mentioned about the minor parties except the names of their current leaders.[1]

Since 1997, the SPA chairman, premier and NDC/SAC chairman have officially formed a triumvirate heading the executive branch, with powers equivalent to one-third of a president's powers in other presidential systems. The SPA chairman conducts foreign affairs and receives the credentials of ambassadors, the premier handles domestic policy and the NDC/SAC chairman commands the armed forces. In practice, however, the real power is vested in the SAC chairman (who has also been leader of the WPK), an office constitutionally defined as the "highest post in the state."

Supreme Leader of the DPRKEdit

The Constitution of North Korea has recognized the title "Supreme Leader" since 2009, when the Chairman of the National Defence Commission was formally designated as "the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."[2] It was slightly amended in 2012, with "Chairman" replaced by "First Chairman."[3] It was further amended in 2016 to reflect the replacement of the NDC with the State Affairs Commission.

Kim Jong-unKim Jong-ilKim Il-sung 
Generations of leadership

  First generation   Second generation   Third generation

Picture Name Offices held Period Ideology
  Kim Il-sung
김일성
(1912–1994)
 
Supreme Commander of the KPA 8 February 1948 – 24 December 1991 9 September 1948

8 July 1994
(45 years, 302 days)
Juche
(Ten Principles)
Premier of the Cabinet of the DPRK 9 September 1948 – 28 December 1972
Chairman of the Central Committee of the WPK 30 June 1949 – 11 October 1966
Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the WPK 26 June 1950 – 8 July 1994
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the WPK 11 October 1966 – 8 July 1994
President of the DPRK 28 December 1972 – 8 July 1994
Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK 28 December 1972 – 9 April 1993
Eternal President of the DPRK 5 September 1998 – Incumbent
  Kim Jong-il
김정일
(1941–2011)
 
Supreme Commander of the KPA 24 December 1991 – 17 December 2011 8 July 1994

17 December 2011
(17 years, 162 days)
Juche
Songun
(Ten Principles)
Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK 9 April 1993 – 17 December 2011
General Secretary of the WPK 8 October 1997 – 17 December 2011
Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the WPK
Eternal General Secretary of the WPK 11 April 2012 – Incumbent
Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK 13 April 2012 – 29 June 2016
  Kim Jong-un
김정은
(born 1984)
 
Supreme Commander of the KPA 30 December 2011 – Incumbent 17 December 2011

Incumbent
(6 years, 181 days)
Juche
Songun
(Ten Principles)
First Secretary of the WPK 11 April 2012 – 9 May 2016
Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the WPK 11 April 2012 – Incumbent
First Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK 13 April 2012 – 29 June 2016
Chairman of the WPK 9 May 2016 – Incumbent
Chairman of the State Affairs Commission 29 June 2016 – Incumbent

Leaders of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK)Edit

 
Flag of the Workers' Party of Korea
No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political Party
1   Kim Tu-bong
(1889–1958)
28 August 1946 30 June 1949 WPNK
2   Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
30 June 1949 11 October 1966 WPK
General Secretary of the Central Committee
(2)   Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
11 October 1966 8 July 1994 WPK
General Secretary of the Party
3   Kim Jong-il
(1941–2011)
8 October 1997 Incumbent
(deceased; see explanation below)
WPK
First Secretary of the Party
4   Kim Jong-un
(born 1984)
11 April 2012 9 May 2016 WPK
Chairman of the Party
(4)   Kim Jong-un
(born 1984)
9 May 2016 Incumbent WPK

Kim Jong-il died on 17 December 2011, but has since been posthumously named the "Eternal General Secretary". Thus his son and successor as leader, Kim Jong-un, was not given the title of General Secretary.

Heads of stateEdit

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political Party
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly
1   Kim Tu-bong
(1889–1958)
9 September 1948 20 September 1957 WPNK / WPK
2   Choe Yong-gon
(1900–1976)
20 September 1957 28 December 1972 WPK
President of the Republic
3   Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
28 December 1972 Incumbent
(deceased; see explanation below)
WPK
President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly
4   Yang Hyong-sop
(born 1925)
8 July 1994 5 September 1998 WPK
5   Kim Yong-nam
(born 1928)
5 September 1998 Incumbent WPK

Kim Il-sung died on 8 July 1994, but has since 1998 been posthumously named the "Eternal President of the Republic". Thus his son and successor as leader, the late Kim Jong-il, was not given the title of President and the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly became de jure head of state.

Heads of governmentEdit

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political Party
Premier of the Cabinet
1   Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
9 September 1948 28 December 1972 WPNK / WPK
Premier of the Administration Council
2   Kim Il
(1910–1984)
28 December 1972 29 April 1976 WPK
3   Pak Song-chol
(1913–2008)
19 April 1976 16 December 1977 WPK
4   Ri Jong-ok
(1916–1999)
16 December 1977 27 January 1984 WPK
5   Kang Song-san
(1931–2007)
27 January 1984 29 December 1986 WPK
6   Ri Kun-mo
(born 1926)
29 December 1986 12 December 1988 WPK
7   Yon Hyong-muk
(1931–2005)
12 December 1988 11 December 1992 WPK
8   Kang Song-san
(1931–2007)
11 December 1992 21 February 1997 WPK
  Hong Song-nam
(1929–2009)
Acting Premier
21 February 1997 5 September 1998 WPK
Premier of the Cabinet
9   Hong Song-nam
(1929–2009)
5 September 1998 3 September 2003 WPK
10   Pak Pong-ju
(born 1939)
3 September 2003 11 April 2007 WPK
11   Kim Yong-il
(born 1944)
11 April 2007 7 June 2010 WPK
12   Choe Yong-rim
(born 1930)
7 June 2010 1 April 2013 WPK
13   Pak Pong-ju
(born 1939)
1 April 2013 Incumbent WPK

Heads of parliamentEdit

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political Party
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly
1   Kim Tu-bong
(1889–1958)
9 September 1948 20 September 1957 WPNK / WPK
2   Choe Yong-gon
(1900–1976)
20 September 1957 28 December 1972 WPK
3   Hwang Jang-yop
(1923–2010)
28 December 1972 1983 WPK
4   Yang Hyong-sop
(born 1925)
1983 5 September 1998 WPK
Chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly
5   Choe Thae-bok
(born 1930)
5 September 1998 Incumbent WPK

Heads of the militaryEdit

 
Flag of the Korean People's Army
No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political Party
Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea
1   Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
26 June 1950 28 December 1972 WPK
Chairman of the National Defence Commission
(1)   Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
28 December 1972 9 April 1993 WPK
2   Kim Jong-il
(1941–2011)
9 April 1993 Incumbent
(deceased; see explanation below)
WPK
First Chairman of the National Defence Commission
3   Kim Jong-un
(born 1984)
13 April 2012 29 June 2016 WPK
Chairman of the State Affairs Commission
(3)   Kim Jong-un
(born 1984)
29 June 2016 Incumbent WPK

Kim Jong-il died on 17 December 2011, but has since been posthumously named the "Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission". Thus his son and successor as leader, Kim Jong-un, was given the title of "First Chairman".

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Savada, Andrea Matles. "Mass Organizations." North Korea: A country study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1993.
  2. ^ Petrov, Leonid (12 October 2009). "DPRK has quietly amended its Constitution". Leonid Petrov's KOREA VISION. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "Article 100". Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (PDF). Amended and supplemented on April 1, Juche 102 (2013), at the Seventh Session of the Twelfth Supreme People's Assembly. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House. 2014. p. 22. ISBN 978-9946-0-1099-1. 

External linksEdit