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Constitution of North Korea

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The Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea DPRK, colloquially known as North Korea It lays out the framework of the national government and the functions of the ruling state party, the Workers' Party of Korea WPK in relation to the Cabinet and Parliament The constitution is divided into 166 articles, split between three sections


  • 1 History
    • 11 1948 People's Constitution
    • 12 1972 Juche Constitution
    • 13 1998 Kim Il-sung Constitution
    • 14 2009 Songun Constitution
    • 15 2012 Kim Il-sung–Kim Jong-il Constitution
    • 16 2013 Constitution
    • 17 2016 Constitution
  • 2 Overview
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 Further reading
  • 6 External links


Previous constitutions were adopted in 1948,1 1972,2 1992,3 1998,4 and 2013 The constitution in force currently dates from 20165

1948 People's Constitutionedit

The original North Korean constitution was based on the 1936 Soviet Constitution and the constitution of the Bulgarian People's Republic67 This constitution was adopted at the first Supreme People's Assembly 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 supervisors6 Under the 1948 constitution, the Supreme People's Assembly SPA was the highest organ in the state, while the Presidium of the SPA was responsible for initiating action and policymaking8 Unlike later constitutions, the inaugural constitution does not grant a privileged status to the ruling Workers' Party of Korea9 The 1948 constitution became obsolete when it was replaced by a new constitution in 19728

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 revision10 The WPK appointed a commission to draft a new constitution was established in October 197211 The need was elaborated by Kim Il-sung in his speech at the first session of the fifth Supreme People's Assembly 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 December11 Under the new constitution, Kim Il-sung became the President of the DPRK 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 Supreme People’s Assembly represented the state which followed the Soviet practicecitation needed 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"12

1998 Kim Il-sung Constitutionedit

The 1998 "Kim Il-sung Constitution" appointed Kim Il-sung, who had died in 1994, the Eternal President13

2009 Songun Constitutionedit

The new, amended in 2009 version of DPRK Constitution is called the "Songun Constitution14 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 dropped15

2012 Kim Il-sung–Kim Jong-il Constitutionedit

The Constitution was again amended in 2012 during the 5th Session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly 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"16 Accordingly, the Constitution was named the "Kim Il-sung–Kim Jong-il Constitution"17 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

2013 Constitutionedit

The Constitution was amended on April 1, 201318

2016 Constitutionedit

The Constitution was amended in June 2016 following the 7th WPK Congress It replaces the National Defence Commission with the State Affairs Commission placing Kim Jong-un as head of state5


The constitution establishes North Korea's official name and its status as a socialist state19 Article 12 defines the country as a "dictatorship of people's democracy" a wording that closely follows the Chinese model of the people's democratic dictatorshipcitation needed under the leadership of the Workers' Party 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"

See alsoedit

  • Law portal
  • North Korea portal
  • Law of North Korea
  • Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideological System


  1. ^ Kim, Hyung-chan; Kim, Tong-gyu 2005 Human remolding in North Korea: a social history of education University Press of America p 134
  2. ^ Constitution of North Korea 1972 Wikisource
  3. ^ Haale, Christopher 2002 'North Korea in Evolution: The Correlation Between the Legal Framework and the Changing Dynamic of Politics and the Economy' Korea Observer, Vol 33 No 3
  4. ^ North Korea drops Communism from its Constitution Archived February 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Azerbaijan Press Agency September 28, 2009
  5. ^ a b JH Ahn 30 June 2016 "NKorea updates constitution expanding Kim Jong Un's position" NK News Retrieved 2016-09-27 
  6. ^ a b "Terenti Shtykov: the other ruler of nascent North Korea" by Andrei Lankov "even the North Korean constitution was edited by Stalin himself and became law of the land only after a lengthy discussion in Moscow, where Shytkov and Stalin sat together looking through the draft of the country’s future supreme law They approved it, but not completely, since some articles were rewritten by Soviet supervisors So Shytkov, together with Stalin himself, can be seen as the authors of the North Korean constitution" Korea Times Archived April 17, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Aalto, Pentti; Vaarnas, Kalle 1962 "Korea" Otavan Iso Tietosanakirja: Encyclopaedia Fennica in Finnish IV: JYRS–KUUR Helsinki: Otava p 1338 OCLC 832620470 
  8. ^ a b Constitutionalism in Asia: Cases and Materials By Wen-Chen Chang, Li-ann Thio, Kevin YL Tan, Jiunn-rong Yeh
  9. ^ Przeworski, Adam 2013 "Ruling against Rulers" In Ginsburg, Tom; Simpser, Alberto Constitutions in Authoritarian Regimes Cambridge: Cambridge University Press p 27 ISBN 978-1-107-04766-2 
  10. ^ “Korea Today” Foreign Languages Pub House, 196, 1987 p 3
  11. ^ a b Youn-Soo Kim 1980 "Introduction" In Simons, William B The Constitutions of the Communist World Leiden: BRILL p 228 ISBN 90-286-0070-1 
  12. ^ Amarnath Amarasingam 19 December 2011 "The Prophet Is Dead: Juche and the Future of North Korea" The Huffington Post Retrieved 2015-07-03 
  13. ^ Kwon, Heonik; Chung, Byung-Ho 12 March 2012 North Korea: Beyond Charismatic Politics Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ISBN 978-1-4422-1577-1 Retrieved 9 July 2015 
  14. ^ David-West, Alzo February 2011 "North Korea, Fascism, and Stalinism: On B R Myers' The Cleanest Race" Journal of Contemporary Asia 41 1: 152 doi:101080/004723362011530043 
  15. ^ DPRK has quietly amended its Constitution | Leonid Petrov's KOREA VISION Archived 2013-03-31 at WebCite Leonidpetrovwordpresscom 2009-10-12 Retrieved on 2013-07-12
  16. ^ North Korea proclaims itself a nuclear state in new constitution - CNNcom Archived August 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Articlescnncom Retrieved on 2013-07-12
  17. ^ "North Korea Amends the Constitution" The Institute for Far Eastern Studies 2012-06-14 Retrieved 2015-07-09 
  18. ^ Korea Institute for National Unification 10 September 2014 White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2014 길잡이미디어 p 86 ISBN 978-89-8479-766-6 Retrieved 23 July 2015 
  19. ^ Scalapino, Robert A; Kim, Chun-yŏp 1983 North Korea today: strategic and domestic issues Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Center for Korean Studies p 24

Further readingedit

  • Blaustein, Albert P; Flanz, Gisbert H 1991 Constitutions of the Countries of the World: North Korea New York: Oceana Publications ISBN 0-379-00467-4 
  • Cho Sung Yoon 1986 The Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Washington: Library of Congress Law Library OCLC 123223358 
  • Dae-kyu Yoon 2003 "The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications" Fordham International Law Journal 27 
  • — 2014 "Constitutional Change in North Korea" In Albert H Y Chen Constitutionalism in Asia in the Early Twenty-First Century Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp 101–117 ISBN 978-1-107-04341-1 
  • Hale, Chrisopher 2002 "Multifunctional Juche: A Study of the Changing Dynamic between Juche and the State Constitution in North Korea" Korea Journal 42 3: 283–308 
  • Kim, Chin; Kearley, Timothy G 1976 "The 1972 Socialist Constitution of North Korea" Texas International Law Journal 11 
  • Kim Yong-soo 1977 "The 1972 Socialist Constitution of the Korean People's Republic" Review of Socialist Law: 281–296 
  • Lee, Eric Yong-Joong 2000 "Development of North Korea's legal regime governing foreign business cooperation: A revisit under the new socialist constitution of 1998" Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business 21 
  • Masao Fukushima 1975 On the Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House OCLC 3868508 

External linksedit

  • The Constitution at Naenara
  • Text of the 2009 Constitution
  • The 2013 Constitution PDF at Naenara

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