List of leaders of North Korea

This article lists the political leaders of North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

At the end of World War II, Soviet Union occupied the northern half of Korea and in 1946 established the Provisional People's Committee for North Korea chaired by Kim Il-sung. On 9 September 1948, the DPRK was proclaimed, also led by Kim Il-sung.

The supreme leaders of the DPRK have been Kim Il-sung, his son Kim Jong-il, and his grandson Kim Jong-un. In this role they have not held consistent titles, though they were each leaders of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK)—titled as Chairman from 1948 to 1966, General Secretary from 1966 to 2011, First Secretary from 2011 to 2016, and finally Chairman again since 2016—for almost all of their period in power. Even though they have the appearance of a dynasty, succession is informal.

From 1948 to 1972, the nominal head of state was the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA). In 1972, the constitution was amended to create an executive presidency. Kim Il-sung, who had served as Premier of North Korea since the DPRK's inception, was unanimously elected President of North Korea by the Supreme People's Assembly on December 28. He held this office until his death on 8 July 1994 when he was proclaimed the "eternal President of the Republic". Since then, the practical functions of the head of state have been exercised by the President of the Presidium of the SPA.

After the death of Kim Il-sung, his son Kim Jong-il was understood to have inherited his father's near-absolute control over the country.[1][2][3] Although he had been his father's designated successor since at least 1991, it took him three years to fully consolidate his power. He was elected general secretary of the party in 1997, and was reelected Chairman of the National Defence Commission (NDC) in 1998. During his rule he was given a range of titles. He ruled the country until his death on 17 December 2011. He was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un, who was revealed to be in charge of the country since his father's death by the Rodong Sinmun and finally publicly acknowledged as supreme leader at the military review ending Kim Jong-il's funeral on 29 December 2011.

The government is headed by the Premier of the Cabinet, formerly called Premier of the Administration Council.

Other important institutions include the SPA, whose sessions are chaired by the Chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly, and, since 1993, the Chairman of the NDC–since 2016, known as the State Affairs Commission–which holds supreme command of the DPRK's armed forces.

While two other parties, the Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party, nominally exist, only the WPK holds any power at the national level. The other parties, and indeed all other mass organizations in the country, are completely subservient to the WPK. They exist solely to keep up the appearance that the country is a pluralist society. Almost nothing is mentioned about the minor parties except the names of their current leaders.[4]

Since 1997, the SPA chairman, premier and NDC/SAC chairman have officially formed a triumvirate heading the executive branch, with powers equivalent to one-third of a president's powers in other presidential systems. The SPA chairman conducts foreign affairs and receives the credentials of ambassadors, the premier handles domestic policy and the NDC/SAC chairman commands the armed forces. In practice, however, the real power is vested in the SAC chairman (who has also been leader of the WPK), an office constitutionally defined as the "highest post in the state”.

Supreme Leader of the DPRK

The Constitution of North Korea has recognized the title "Supreme Leader" since 2009, when the Chairman of the National Defence Commission was formally designated as "the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" (Korean: 조선민주주의인민공화국의 최고 지도자).[5] It was slightly amended in 2012, with "Chairman" replaced by "First Chairman."[6] It was further amended in 2016 to reflect the replacement of the NDC with the State Affairs Commission.

Kim Jong-unKim Jong-ilKim Il-sung

Generations of leadership

  First generation   Second generation   Third generation

Leaders of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK)

Flag of the Workers' Party of Korea
No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political party
Chairman
1 Kim Tu-bong.jpg Kim Tu-bong
(1889–1958)
28 August 1946 30 June 1949 WPNK
Chairman of the Central Committee
2 Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpg Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
30 June 1949 11 October 1966 WPK
General Secretary of the Central Committee
(2) Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpg Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
11 October 1966 8 July 1994 WPK
General Secretary of the Party
3 Kim Jong il Portrait.jpg Kim Jong-il
(1941–2011)
8 October 1997 17 December 2011
(see explanation below)
WPK
First Secretary of the Party
4 Kim Jong-un at the Workers' Party of Korea main building.png Kim Jong-un
(born 1983)
11 April 2012 9 May 2016 WPK
Chairman of the Party
(4) Kim Jong-un at the Workers' Party of Korea main building.png Kim Jong-un
(born 1983)
9 May 2016 Incumbent WPK

Kim Jong-il died on 17 December 2011, but has since been posthumously named the "Eternal General Secretary". Thus his son and successor as leader, Kim Jong-un, was not given the title of General Secretary.

Heads of state

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political party
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly
1 Kim Tu-bong.jpg Kim Tu-bong
(1889–1958)
9 September 1948 20 September 1957 WPNK / WPK
2 Choe Yong-gon.jpg Choe Yong-gon
(1900–1976)
20 September 1957 28 December 1972 WPK
President of the Republic
3 Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpg Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
28 December 1972 8 July 1994
(see explanation below)
WPK
President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly
4 No image.svg Yang Hyong-sop
(born 1925)
8 July 1994 5 September 1998 WPK
5 Kim Yong-nam in Moscow.jpg Kim Yong-nam
(born 1928)
5 September 1998 11 April 2019 WPK
Supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
6 Kim Jong-il on August 24, 2011 (mini).jpg Kim Jong-il
(born 1941)
9 April 2009 17 December 2011 WPK
7 Kim Jong-un IKS 2018.jpg Kim Jong-un
(born 1984)
8 march 2012 Incumbent WPK

Kim Il-sung died on 8 July 1994, but in 1998 was named "eternal President of the Republic". Thus his son and successor as leader, the late Kim Jong-il,Until April 2009 was not given the title of President and the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly became recognised as the de facto head of state.

Heads of government

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political party
Premier of the Cabinet
1 Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpg Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
9 September 1948 28 December 1972 WPNK / WPK
Premier of the Administration Council
2 KimIl1974.jpg Kim Il
(1910–1984)
28 December 1972 29 April 1976 WPK
3 No image.svg Pak Song-chol
(1913–2008)
19 April 1976 16 December 1977 WPK
4 Li Jong-ok.jpg Ri Jong-ok
(1916–1999)
16 December 1977 27 January 1984 WPK
5 No image.svg Kang Song-san
(1931–2007)
27 January 1984 29 December 1986 WPK
6 No image.svg Ri Kun-mo
(1926–2001)
29 December 1986 12 December 1988 WPK
7 No image.svg Yon Hyong-muk
(1931–2005)
12 December 1988 11 December 1992 WPK
8 No image.svg Kang Song-san
(1931–2007)
11 December 1992 21 February 1997 WPK
No image.svg Hong Song-nam
(1929–2009)
Acting Premier
21 February 1997 5 September 1998 WPK
Premier of the Cabinet
9 No image.svg Hong Song-nam
(1929–2009)
5 September 1998 3 September 2003 WPK
10 No image.svg Pak Pong-ju
(born 1939)
3 September 2003 11 April 2007 WPK
11 No image.svg Kim Yong-il
(born 1944)
11 April 2007 7 June 2010 WPK
12 No image.svg Choe Yong-rim
(born 1930)
7 June 2010 1 April 2013 WPK
13 No image.svg Pak Pong-ju
(born 1939)
1 April 2013 12 April 2019 WPK
14 No image.svg Kim Jae-ryong
12 April 2019 Incumbent WPK

Heads of parliament

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political party
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly
1 Kim Tu-bong.jpg Kim Tu-bong
(1889–1958)
9 September 1948 20 September 1957 WPNK / WPK
2 Choe Yong-gon.jpg Choe Yong-gon
(1900–1976)
20 September 1957 28 December 1972 WPK
3 Hwang Jang Yeop.jpg Hwang Jang-yop
(1923–2010)
28 December 1972 1983 WPK
4 No image.svg Yang Hyong-sop
(born 1925)
1983 5 September 1998 WPK
Chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly
5 No image.svg Choe Thae-bok
(born 1930)
5 September 1998 11 April 2019 WPK
6 No image.svg Pak Thae-song
11 April 2019 Incumbent WPK

Heads of the military

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political party
Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea
1 Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpg Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
26 June 1950 28 December 1972 WPK
Chairman of the National Defence Commission
(1) Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpg Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
28 December 1972 9 April 1993 WPK
2 Kim Jong il Portrait.jpg Kim Jong-il
(1941–2011)
9 April 1993 17 December 2011
(see explanation below)
WPK
First Chairman of the National Defence Commission
3 Kim Jong-un at the Workers' Party of Korea main building.png Kim Jong-un
(born 1983)
13 April 2012 29 June 2016 WPK
Chairman of the State Affairs Commission
(3) Kim Jong-un at the Workers' Party of Korea main building.png Kim Jong-un
(born 1983)
29 June 2016 Incumbent WPK

Kim Jong-il died on 17 December 2011, but has since been posthumously named the "Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission". Thus his son and successor as leader, Kim Jong-un, was given the title of "First Chairman".

See also

References

External links

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