North Korea revises constitution to make Kim Jong Un head of state

Bloomberg Seoul | Updated on July 11, 2019 Published on July 11, 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un poses for photos in Pyongyang in this January 1, 2019 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency.   -  REUTERS


North Korea has revised its constitution to make Kim Jong Un head of state, a promotion that could help normalise the isolated country’s diplomatic relations with the rest of the world.

A new text of North Korea’s governing document -- quietly posted on the propaganda website Naenara -- adds represents the country to the list of duties of the chairman of the State Affairs Commission, Kims top government title. While such a change had been speculated since North Korea amended its constitution in April, the regime never formally released the revised language.

The amendment, which the Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday, gives new legal underpinning to Kim’s status as North Korea’s supreme leader and could help normalise his interactions with other world leaders. The duty of representing the country was previously reserved for the president of the Supreme Peoples Assembly Presidium, a position filled by Kim aide Choe Ryong Hae in April.

Read also: US mulls sanctions relief for North Korea in exchange for nuclear freeze

The change is the latest example of Kim’s efforts to establish North Korea a normal country that can be trusted with nuclear weapons and operate free from international sanctions. The once-reclusive leader has held 15 meetings with heads of state and government since his first trip abroad in March 2018.

Being head of state would make Kim a protocol equal to U.S. President Donald Trump, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping in any summits and treaty talks. Trump and Kim agreed to restart negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program in a historic third meeting earlier this month in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the Korean Peninsula.

Kim’s growing collection of titles has been interpreted as evidence that he has fended off any potential threats and completed the transfer of power that began after his father Kim Jong Il died in 2011. North Korea’s founder and the current leaders grandfather, Kim Il Sung, was posthumously named the country’s eternal president.

Published on July 11, 2019
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