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North Korea: Revision to the Constitution

(Oct. 20, 2009) The Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) of North Korea unanimously adopted the ordinance of the SPA On Revising and Supplementing the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea” on April 9, 2009. The contents of the revision have not been made public by the North Korean government. However, in late September 2009, Radio Free Asia reported analysis of the revision, and the South Korean government made the revised North Korean Constitution public.

When last revised in September 1998, the Constitution contained three references to “communism,” but the new revision has deleted the word. The new revision includes six clauses stating the role and authority of the Chairman of the National Defense Commission as “supreme leader” of the country. Kim Jong Il was re-elected as the Chairman of the National Defense Commission, “reflecting the unanimous will of the whole Party and army and all the people,” on the same day the new constitution was approved. (First Session of 12th SPA of DPRK Held, NAENARA NEWS, Apr. 10, 2009, available at; N.Korean Parliament Boosts Kim Jong-il's Powers, THE CHOSUN ILBO, Sept. 25, 2009, available at