List of leaders of North Korea

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

The following is a list of political leaders of North Korea.

Prior to the proclamation of a North Korean state, the Soviet Union had established in 1946 the Provisional People's Committee for North Korea as a de facto government in their occupation zone. Its chairman was Kim Il-sung.

On 9 September 1948 a North Korean state, called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), was proclaimed under the leadership of Kim Il-sung and took the governmental functions over from the Provisional People's Committee.

Since its founding, the most important position in the DPRK has been that of the leader of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) — titled as chairman from 1948 to 1966, general secretary from 1966 to 2011 and first secretary since 2011. For all intents and purposes, the WPK is the only legal party in the country (two minor parties exist, but are completely subservient to the WPK), and its leader exercises absolute control over the country. The government serves largely as a transmission belt for the party.

The formal head of state originally was the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly. On December 28, 1972 party leader and Premier Kim Il-sung proclaimed himself President and thus become head of state. He held this office until his death on July 8, 1994 when he was proclaimed the "Eternal President of the Republic". Since then, de jure functions of the head of state had been conferred to the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.

After the death of Kim Il-sung, his son Kim Jong-il held supreme power in the country as Chairman of the National Defence Commission and General Secretary of the party until his own death on December 17, 2011.

The current leader is Kim Jong-il's 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 December 29, 2011.

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

Other important institutions include the Supreme People's Assembly, whose sessions are chaired by the Chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly, and, since 1993, the Chairman of the National Defence Commission, which holds supreme command of the DPRK's armed forces.

Since 1997, the SPA chairman, premier and National Defence Commission 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 chairman commands the armed forces. In practice, however, the real power is vested in the NDC chairman (who has also been leader of the Workers' Party), an office constitutionally defined as the "highest post in the state."

Supreme leaders[edit]

To date, "supreme leader" has been applied to three individual North Korean leaders, from three generations of a single family (dates approximate and open to dispute):

Kim Jong-unKim Jong-ilKim Il-sung

Generations of leadership

      First generation       Second generation       Third generation

PictureNameOffices heldPeriodParty
Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpgKim Il-sung
김일성
(1912–1994)
Kim Il Sung Signature.svg
Supreme Commander of the KPAFebruary 8, 1948 – December 24, 1991September 9, 1948

July 8, 1994
(45 years, 302 days)
Workers' Party of Korea
Prime Minister of the DPRK CabinetSeptember 9, 1948 – December 28, 1972
Chairman of the WPK Central CommitteeJune 30, 1949 – October 11, 1966
Chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission1950 – July 8, 1994
General Secretary of the WPK Central CommitteeOctober 11, 1966 – July 8, 1994
President of the DPRKDecember 28, 1972 – July 8, 1994
Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRKDecember 28, 1972 – April 9, 1993
Eternal President of the DPRKJuly 8, 1994 – Incumbent
Kim Jong il Portrait.jpgKim Jong-il
김정일
(1942–2011)
Kim Jong-il Signature.png
Supreme Commander of the KPADecember 24, 1991 – December 17, 2011July 8, 1994

December 17, 2011
(17 years, 162 days)
Workers' Party of Korea
Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRKApril 9, 1993 – December 17, 2011
General Secretary of the WPK Central CommitteeOctober 8, 1997 – December 17, 2011
Chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission
Eternal General Secretary of the WPK Central CommitteeApril 11, 2012 – Incumbent
Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRKApril 13, 2012 – Incumbent
No image.svgKim Jong-un
김정은
(1983–)
Kim Jong-un Signature.png
Supreme Commander of the KPADecember 30, 2011 – IncumbentDecember 17, 2011

Incumbent
(2 years, 191 days)
Workers' Party of Korea
First Secretary of the WPK Central CommitteeApril 11, 2012 – Incumbent
Chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission
First Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRKApril 13, 2012 – Incumbent

Leaders of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK)[edit]

Flag of the Workers' Party of Korea
#PictureNameTook officeLeft officeParty
Chairmen of the Central Committee
1No image.svgKim Tu-bong28 August 194630 June 1949Workers' Party of Korea
2Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpgKim Il-sung30 June 194911 October 1966Workers' Party of Korea
General Secretary of the Central Committee
1Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpgKim Il-sung11 October 19668 July 1994Workers' Party of Korea
General Secretary of the Party
2Kim Jong il Portrait.jpgKim Jong-il8 October 1997IncumbentWorkers' Party of Korea
First Secretary of the Central Committee
1No image.svgKim Jong-un11 April 2012IncumbentWorkers' Party of Korea

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[edit]

#PictureNameTook officeLeft officeParty
Chairmen of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly
1No image.svgKim Tu-bong9 September 194820 September 1957Workers' Party of Korea
2No image.svgChoi Yong-kun20 September 195728 December 1972Workers' Party of Korea
President of the Republic
1Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpgKim Il-sung28 December 1972IncumbentWorkers' Party of Korea
Presidents of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly
3No image.svgYang Hyong-sop8 July 19945 September 1998Workers' Party of Korea
4No image.svgKim Yong-nam5 September 1998IncumbentWorkers' Party of Korea

Kim Il-sung died on 8 July 1994, but has since been posthumously named the "Eternal President of the Republic". Thus his son and successor as leader, the late Kim Jong-il, was not given the title of President and the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly became de jure head of state.

Heads of government[edit]

#PictureNameTook officeLeft officeParty
Prime Minister of the Cabinet
1Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpgKim Il-sung9 September 194828 December 1972Workers' Party of Korea
Premiers of the Council of Ministers
1No image.svgKim Il28 December 197229 April 1976Workers' Party of Korea
2No image.svgPak Song-chol19 April 197616 December 1977Workers' Party of Korea
3Li Jong-ok.jpgLi Jong-ok16 December 197727 January 1984Workers' Party of Korea
4No image.svgKang Song-san27 January 198429 December 1986Workers' Party of Korea
5No image.svgLi Gun-mo29 December 198612 December 1988Workers' Party of Korea
6No image.svgYon Hyong-muk12 December 198811 December 1992Workers' Party of Korea
7No image.svgKang Song-san11 December 199221 February 1997Workers' Party of Korea
No image.svgHong Song-nam
Acting
21 February 19975 September 1998Workers' Party of Korea
Premiers of the Cabinet
1No image.svgHong Song-nam5 September 19983 September 2003Workers' Party of Korea
2No image.svgPak Pong-ju3 September 200311 April 2007Workers' Party of Korea
3No image.svgKim Yong-il11 April 20077 June 2010Workers' Party of Korea
4No image.svgChoe Yong-rim7 June 20101 April 2013Workers' Party of Korea
5No image.svgPak Pong-ju1 April 2013IncumbentWorkers' Party of Korea

Heads of parliament[edit]

#PictureNameTook officeLeft officeParty
Chairmen of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly
1No image.svgKim Tu-bong9 September 194820 September 1957Workers' Party of Korea
2No image.svgChoi Yong-kun20 September 195728 December 1972Workers' Party of Korea
3Hwang Jang Yeop.jpgHwang Jang-yop28 December 19721983Workers' Party of Korea
4No image.svgYang Hyong-sop19835 September 1998Workers' Party of Korea
Chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly
5No image.svgChoe Thae-bok5 September 1998IncumbentWorkers' Party of Korea

Heads of the military[edit]

#PictureNameTook officeLeft officeParty
Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea
1Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpgKim Il-sung195028 December 1972Workers' Party of Korea
Chairman of the National Defence Commission
1Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpgKim Il-sung28 December 19729 April 1993Workers' Party of Korea
2Kim Jong il Portrait.jpgKim Jong-il9 April 1993IncumbentWorkers' Party of Korea
First Chairman of the National Defence Commission
1No image.svgKim Jong-un13 April 2012IncumbentWorkers' Party of Korea

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 not given the title of Chairman.

See also[edit]