The State Affairs Commission of North Korea is the highest government organ of the country and is led by Chairman Kim Jong Un.
There are a lot of misconceptions about how the Government of North Korea works, but in fact, there is a distinct, concise, and compelling North Korean Constitution that sets a lot of this in place.
As a socialist country, the DPRK constitution bears a number os similarities to the former constitution of the Soviet Union, as well as other “old” Eastern Bloc countries such as the German Democratic Republic and even the big brothers to the west the People’s Republic of China. Of course, North Korea being North Korea, they also take their own twist on things.
The Parliament of North Korea is known as the Supreme People’s Assembly, and it consists of one deputy from each of the DPRK’s 687 constituencies, elected to five-year terms. The Workers Party of Korea is the leading party in a United Front coalition which also includes the Chondoist Chongu Party and the Social Democratic Party.
The Supreme People’s Assembly then elects a Presidium, who are technically at least the highest government organ of the country, somewhat similar to how things worked in the USSR.
And this is the point where North Korea diverges somewhat from the rest of the Socialist Fraternity.
In 1972 a new government agency, the National Defense Commission of North Korea, was founded. For many years it existed as a parallel organization and was analogous to head of the military. From 1972 to 1993, it was an ex-officio post held by President Kim Il Sung. In 1993 General Kim Jong Il took control of the organization. Following the death of President Kim Il-Sung in 1994, the office was to gain much more importance, something which culminated in a change to the constitution in 1998. Thus it became the highest position of the state, with its leader being the de-facto head of government and head of state.
In 2016 the National Defense Commission (NDC) was replaced by the State Affairs Commission. Some have seen this as part of a broader strategy to replace the former Songun (Military-First policy) with a more traditionalist party-based system.
The set powers of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK are as follows;
- Act upon the wishes of the Chairman of the Commission (the Supreme Leader)
- Manage the cabinet of the DPRK (the Presidium)
Interestingly it also has a mandate over the two government agencies that do not fall under the cabinet of North Korea, namely the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of People’s Security. These are some of the most powerful and influential ministries in North Korea.
The current, and so far only Chairman of the State Affairs Commission is Marshal Kim Jong Un. The first vice-chairman is Choe Ryong-Hae, the de-facto deputy leader of the country, with Pak Pong-Ju, mostly being second vice-Chairman (third most powerful person in the country) with there being 11 further members of the commission.
There is only one female member of the commission, Choe Son-Hui, often cited as one of the most influential female politicians in North Korea. Many of the members of the State Affairs Commission are North Korean Generals, but with a majority simply being senior members of the Workers Party of Korea.
And that is our very pint served guide to the highest organs of the North Korean Government in the fascinating North Korean political system!
But of course, the best way to view it is to come and see North Korea with your own eyes..