Supreme People's Assembly
Sat . 18 Aug 2018

Supreme People's Assembly

The Supreme People's Assembly Chosongul: 최고 인민 회의 is the unicameral legislature of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea DPRK, commonly known as North Korea It consists of one deputy from each of 687 constituencies,citation needed elected to five-year terms1

The constitution recognizes the Workers' Party as the leading party of the state The Workers' Party, led by Kim Jong-un, governs the DPRK in a monopoly coalition with the Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party called the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland Elections are held in five-year intervals, the most recent taking place in 2014

Although the Supreme People's Assembly is the primary legislative body of the DPRK, it ordinarily delegates authority to the smaller and more powerful Presidium, chosen from among its members


  • 1 History
  • 2 Elections and membership
  • 3 Functions
  • 4 Presidium
    • 41 President
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


Under the 1972 Constitution, the number of seats in the Assembly was 6552 This was increased to 687 following the 1986 election3

In 1990, the composition of the SPA was 601 seats held by the Workers' Party of Korea, 51 seats held by the Korean Social Democratic Party, 22 seats held by the Chondoist Chongu Party and 13 seats held by independents4

The last convention during Kim Il-sung's government took place in April 1994, three months before his death Then during the mourning period the assembly did not meet, nor did elections take place The next meeting convened in September 1998, four years after Kim's death5

Kim Jong-il did not make a speech at the first session of the 10th SPA in 1998 Instead, members listened to a tape-recorded speech of the late Kim Il Sung, which was made at the first session of the 9th SPA, in 1991 The enhanced status of the Korean People's Army was anticipated by the SPA election July 1998, when 101 military officials were elected out of 687 delegates This was a large increase from the 57 military officials elected during the 9th SPA in 1990

Kim Yong-nam has been president of the Assembly Presidum and de jure head of state of North Korea since 1998 Choe Thae-bok, Kim Wan-su and Hong Son Ok are the Vice-Chairmen6

On April 14, 2012, during the fifth session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly Kim Jong Un was elected as the country's supreme leader Addressing the SPA session, Kim Yong Nam, president of the SPA Presidium, said Kim's accession to the DPRK's top post reflected "the ardent desire and unanimous will of all the party members, servicepersons and other people"7 His status as leader was reaffirmed when he was elected unopposed on March 9, 2014 Kim had nominated to represent his district, the symbolic Mount Paekduto, in the assembly election Voters could vote yes or no with all voting in the affirmative, according to government officials

In 2017, the assembly created a subordinate Diplomatic Commission This may be useful for international dialogue with other parliaments, while other diplomatic channels are blocked8

Elections and membershipedit

Main article: Elections in North Korea

Under the Constitution of North Korea, all citizens 17 and older, regardless of party affiliation, political views, or religion, are eligible to be elected to the legislature and vote in elections

All candidates are selected by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland in mass meetings held to decide which candidates will be nominated and their names can only go on the ballot paper with the approval of the meeting The Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland is a popular front dominated by the Korean Worker's Party, in which almost all power rests The other participants in the coalition include the two other de facto legal political parties, the Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party, as well as various other member organizations including social groups and youth groups, such as the Korean section of the Pioneer movement, the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, the Korean Democratic Women's League, and the Red Cross Society of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Elections are ostensibly by secret ballot However, only one candidate who has been selected by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland appears on the ballot A voter may cross off the candidate's name to vote against them


According to the Constitution of North Korea, it is the highest organ of state power in the country In practice, like former Eastern Bloc legislatures, it does little more than rubber-stamp decisions already made by the country's executive organs and the Workers' Party The Assembly is convened once or twice a year in regular sessions of several days each At all other times, the Presidium acts for the Assembly Extraordinary sessions of the Assembly can also meet when called by the Presidium or by one third of the Assembly deputies

The functions of the SPA are:9

  • Adopting, amending or supplementing enactments to the constitution
  • Determining State policy and budgets10
  • Elections of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and members of the National Defence Commission
  • Election of the President and other members of the Presidium
  • Elections of legal officials
  • Appointing the Premier, Deputy Premiers and other members of the Cabinet
  • Receiving reports and adopting measures on the Cabinet

Constitutional amendments require the approval of two-thirds of the deputies9


The Presidium exercises legislative power when the SPA is in recess, which occurs during all but a few days of every year For all intents and purposes, it is the highest organ of state power in North Korea6

The Presidium consists of the President, Vice-Presidents, secretaries and other members The functions of the Presidium are to:9

  • Convene sessions of the Supreme People's Assembly
  • Examine and approve new state legislation when the SPA is in recess
  • Interpret and enact the Constitution and legislation
  • Form or dissolve state ministries
  • Supervise laws of State organs
  • Organize elections to the Supreme People's Assembly
  • Ratify treaties with foreign countries
  • Appoint, transfer, or remove officials and judges when the SPA is not in session
  • Grant special pardons or amnesties

In addition to its executive functions, the Presidium also receives credentials of diplomatic representatives from foreign countries9


According to the 1998 Constitution, the Presidium and the President of the Presidium succeed the Assembly's Standing Committee and the Chairman of the Standing Committee Prior to the creation of the post of President of the DPRK in 1972, the Chairman of the Standing Committee was the country's de jure head of state Currently, the Chairman of the Assembly is the SPA speaker while the President of the Presidium is the nominal head of state

Kim Yong-nam is the current President of the Presidium and as such, de jure head of state of North Korea6

See alsoedit

  • North Korea portal
  • Politics portal
  • Politics of North Korea
  • List of legislatures by country
  • National Assembly, the South Korean legislature


  1. ^ "DPRK Holds Election of Local and National Assemblies" People's Korea Archived from the original on 2013-03-31 Retrieved 2008-06-28 
  2. ^ Gorvin, Ian 1989-01-01 Elections since 1945: a worldwide reference compendium Longman p 196 ISBN 9780582036208 
  3. ^ Publications, Europa; Staff, Europa Publications; 32nd, Ed 2017-04-25 The Far East and Australasia 2001 Taylor & Francis Group p 597 ISBN 9781857430806 Archived from the original on 2017-04-26 
  4. ^ Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments
  5. ^ "North Korean legislature seen set to name Kim president", CNN, August 20, 1998 Archived March 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c Dae-woong, Jin 2007-10-04 "Who's who in North Korea's power elite" The Korea Herald Retrieved 2007-10-05 permanent dead link
  7. ^ "DPRK revises constitution, elects Kim Jong Un as top leader", 2012-04-14 Archived 2012-04-18 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Frank, Ruediger 28 April 2017 "The North Korean Parliamentary Session and Budget Report for 2017" 38 North US-Korea Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies Archived from the original on 28 April 2017 Retrieved 1 May 2017 
  9. ^ a b c d Europa Publications Staff 2002 The Far East and Australasia 2003 Routledge pp 680 ISBN 978-1-85743-133-9
  10. ^ Frank, Ruediger 8 April 2016 "The 2016 North Korean Budget Report: 12 Observations" 38 North US-Korea Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies Archived from the original on 4 May 2017 Retrieved 1 May 2017 

External linksedit

  • North Korean Government, CIA World Factbook
  • FACTBOX - North Korea's main political bodies and power, Reuters
  • First Session of 12th Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea Helddead link

Coordinates: 39°01′43″N 125°44′59″E / 3902861°N 12574972°E / 3902861; 12574972

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