Government of North Korea

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
North Korea
Foreign relations

In the government of North Korea, the cabinet is the administrative and executive body.[1] The North Korean government consists of three branches: administrative, legislative, and judicial. However, they are not independent of each other.[2]


The government is also confirmed by the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA). The SPA chooses a Premier, who appoints three Vice Premiers and the government's ministers. The government is dominated by the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and has been since North Korea's inception in 1948.

The Cabinet now has the right to supervise and control the Local People's Committee (LPC) with regard to local economies and administration. As the State Administrative Council (SAC) was replaced by the Cabinet, the Local Administrative and Economic Committee (LAEC) was abolished and its functions regarding local politics transferred to the LPC.

A party chief secretary no longer concurrently holds the post of LPC chairman Hyun Seo-yeo, which has been taken over by a former LAEC chairman. Thus, the LPC is theoretically independent of the local party and is under the control of the Cabinet. The status of the LPC as the local executive organ, in principle, became higher than before.

The Economist Intelligence Unit listed North Korea in last place as a totalitarian regime in its 2012 Democracy Index assessing 168 countries.[3]


North Korea's judiciary is headed by the Central Court of North Korea, which consists of a Chief Justice and two People's Assessors; three judges may be present in some cases.[4] Their terms of office coincide with those of the members of the Supreme People's Assembly. Every court in North Korea has the same composition as the Central Court. The judicial system is theoretically held accountable to the SPA and the Presidium of the SPA when the legislature is not in session.

The judiciary does not practice judicial review. The security forces so often interfere with the actions of the judiciary that the conclusion of most cases is foregone; experts outside North Korea and numerous defectors confirm this to be a widespread problem.[5] Freedom House states that, "North Korea does not have an independent judiciary and does not acknowledge individual rights...reports of arbitrary detentions, 'disappearances,' and extrajudicial killings are common; torture is widespread and severe"[6]

North Korea's fifth and current constitution was approved and adopted in September 1998, replacing the one previously adopted in 1972. The former constitution had last been amended in 1992. Under the new constitution, North Korea is a socialist state representing the interests of all the Korean people.[7] Criminal penalties can be stiff; one of the basic functions of the system is to uphold the power of the regime. Because so little information is available concerning what actually occurs inside of the country, the extent to which there is any rule of law is uncertain. In any case, North Korea is known for its poor human rights situation and regularly detains thousands of dissidents without trial or benefit of legal advice. According to a US Department of State report on human rights practices, the government of North Korea often punishes the family of a criminal along with the perpetrator.[5]

Workers' Party of Korea

The Workers' Party of Korea is organized according to the Monolithic Ideological System and the Great Leader, a system and theory conceived by Kim Yong-ju and Kim Jong-il. The highest body of the WPK is formally the Congress; however, a congress has not been convened since the 6th in 1980. Although the WPK is (in theory) organizationally similar to communist parties, in practice it is far less institutionalized and informal politics plays a larger role than usual. Institutions such as the Central Committee, the Secretariat, the Central Military Commission (CMC), the Politburo and the Presidium have much less power than that formally bestowed on them by the party's charter. Kim Jong-un is the current WPK leader, serving as First Secretary and CMC chairman.

National Defense Commission

In June 2010, Kim appointed his uncle (by marriage), Chang Sung-taek, as vice-chairman of the NDC, in a move seen as propping his own position. Chang was already regarded as the second-most powerful person in North Korea and his appointment strengthened the probability that Kim's third son, Kim Jong-un, would succeed him.[8] However, in December 2013 Chang was fired from all government posts and subsequently executed. Kim Jong Un ordered for his uncle to be executed.[9]

State leaders

Eternal President: Kim Il-sung

Supreme Leader: Kim Jong-un

National Defence Commission of DPRK

Presidium of the SPA of the DPRK

Supreme People's Assembly


WPK Central Committee (September 2010-May 2016)

7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea:

See also


  1. "North Korea names Kim Jong-un army commander". BBC News. 2011-12-31.
  2. Teen Life in Asia By Judith J. Slater
  3. "S.Korea Outranks U.S. in Democracy Index". Chosun Ilbo. 2013-03-22. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  5. 1 2 "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices". U.S. Department of State. March 8, 2006. Retrieved 2006-02-22.
  6. "Freedom in the World, 2006". Freedom House. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  7. Teen Life in Asia By Judith J. Slate
  8. Fading Kim sets the stage for power play, Donald Kirk, SCMP, 11 June 2010
  9. "North Korea executes Kim Jong Un's uncle". Associated Press. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
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