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Government of North Korea

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Title: Government of North Korea  
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Subject: Korea, Politics of North Korea, North Korea, National Defence Commission, List of leaders of North Korea
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Government of North Korea

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

In the Constitution of North Korea.[1] The Supreme People's Assembly is its unicameral parliament, and the Central Court, with its judges appointed by the Supreme People's Assembly, is the highest court of its judiciary.

North Korea's domestic policy and international interactions.[2][3]


  • Institutions 1
    • Judiciary 1.1
    • National Defence Commission 1.2
  • State leaders 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4


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.[4]


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.[5] 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.[6] 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"[7]

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 constitution, North Korea has an unusual legal system based upon German civil law and influenced by Japanese legal theory.[8] 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.[6]

National Defence Commission

In June 2010, Kim appointed his brother-in-law, 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, will succeed him.[9] However, in December 2013 Chang was fired from all government posts and subsequently executed.[10]

State leaders

Supreme Leader: Kim Jong-un

National Defence Commission of DPRK

Presidium of the SPA of the DPRK

Supreme People's Assembly (SPA)


WPK Central Committee

See also


  1. ^ Article 117 of the Constitution of North Korea
  2. ^ Alexander V. Vorontsov, "North Korea's Military-First Policy: A Curse or a Blessing?" Brookings Institution, 26 May 2006
  3. ^ "North Korea names Kim Jong-un army commander".  
  4. ^ "S.Korea Outranks U.S. in Democracy Index".  
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices". U.S. Department of State. March 8, 2006. Retrieved 2006-02-22. 
  7. ^ "Freedom in the World, 2006". Freedom House. Retrieved 2007-02-13. 
  8. ^ Patricia Goedde. "Law 'Of Our Own Style': The Evolution and Challenges of the North Korean Legal System", 27 FORDHAM INT’L L.J. 1265 (2004)
  9. ^ Fading Kim sets the stage for power play, Donald Kirk, SCMP, 11 June 2010
  10. ^ "North Korea executes Kim Jong Un's uncle". Associated Press. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
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