North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

New DPRK Constitution

The DPRK revised its constitution during the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly meetings this past April.  Two significant areas of power and ideology jump out in the new document: 1.) The DPRK has swapped out communism for socialism; 2.) The new constitution codifies the increased power of the National Defense Commission and links it to the power of “supreme commander.”   This latter change formally establishes Kim Jong-il’s dictatorship, something which he has informally held, and was only intimated through his Chairman’s role on the National Defense Commission.  The 1998 Constitution raised the National Defense Commission as the DPRK’s supreme powerholding body, but never linked it to a bodypolitic (Kim Jong-il).

The most curious aspect to the revised DPRK Constitution (which is leaving many Pyongyang watchers scratching their heads) is contained in Article 8 which asserts protections for human rights.  I don’t think any one is expecting a sudden change in the activities of the DPRK’s internal security agencies or a shuttering of the notorious detention centers.  Elements of the songbun system still exist and youth groups and other workers’ organizations remain compelled to provide “volunteer” labor.  Still and all, because this is a constitutional change, it provides a theoretically legal framework for the DPRK to change its austere penal system in the future.

Once a complete copy of the new DPRK Constitution is available, it shall be posted here in full.

New Constitution Bolsters Kim’s Power

Choe Sang Hun, 29 September 2009

International Herald Tribune

N. Korea’s Revised Constitution Gives More Power to Kim Jong-il

Lee Chi-dong, 28 September 2009

Yonhap News Agency

N. Korean Leader Prefers ‘socialism’ to ‘communism’: official

28 September 2009

Yonhap News Agency

Human Rights Revised in North Korean Constitution

Chris Green , 28 September 2009

Daily NK


This article was written on 28 Sep 2009, and is filled under DPRK Constitution, National Defense Commission (NDC).

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