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 (officially called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea).

At the end of World War II, the 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 Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was proclaimed, also led by Kim Il-sung.

Since then, 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) for almost all of their period in power. Even though they have the appearance of a dynasty, there is no formal succession.

The formal head of state originally was the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly. On December 28, 1972 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, the practical functions of the head of state have 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 of the Cabinet, formerly called Premier of the Administration Council.

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 leader of the DPRK[edit]

The supreme leader of the DPRK is not an official title. The men in this position have held various official posts, as shown below:

Kim Jong-un Kim Jong-il Kim Il-sung

Generations of leadership

      First generation       Second generation       Third generation

Picture Name Offices held Period Party
Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpg Kim Il-sung
김일성
(1912–1994)
Kim Il Sung Signature.svg
Supreme Commander of the KPA February 8, 1948 – December 24, 1991 September 9, 1948

July 8, 1994
(45 years, 302 days)
Workers' Party of Korea
Premier of the DPRK Cabinet September 9, 1948 – December 28, 1972
Chairman of the WPK Central Committee June 30, 1949 – October 11, 1966
Chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission 1950 – July 8, 1994
General Secretary of the WPK Central Committee October 11, 1966 – July 8, 1994
President of the DPRK December 28, 1972 – July 8, 1994
Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK December 28, 1972 – April 9, 1993
Eternal President of the DPRK September 5, 1998 – Incumbent
Kim Jong il Portrait.jpg Kim Jong-il
김정일
(1942–2011)
Kim Jong-il Signature.png
Supreme Commander of the KPA December 24, 1991 – December 17, 2011 July 8, 1994

December 17, 2011
(17 years, 162 days)
Workers' Party of Korea
Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK April 9, 1993 – December 17, 2011
General Secretary of the WPK October 8, 1997 – December 17, 2011
Chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission
Eternal General Secretary of the WPK April 11, 2012 – Incumbent
Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK April 13, 2012 – Incumbent
Kim Jong-Un Photorealistic-Sketch.jpg Kim Jong-un
김정은
(1983–)
Kim Jong-un Signature.png
Supreme Commander of the KPA December 30, 2011 – Incumbent December 17, 2011

Incumbent
(3 years, 258 days)
Workers' Party of Korea
First Secretary of the WPK April 11, 2012 – Incumbent
Chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission
First Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK April 13, 2012 – Incumbent

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

Flag of the Workers' Party of Korea
Picture Name
(Born–Died)
Took office Left office Political Party
Chairmen of the Central Committee
1 No image.svg Kim Tu-bong
(1886–1957?)
28 August 1946 30 June 1949 Workers' Party of Korea
2 Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpg Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
30 June 1949 11 October 1966 Workers' Party of Korea
General Secretary of the Central Committee
1 Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpg Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
11 October 1966 8 July 1994 Workers' Party of Korea
General Secretary of the Party
1 Kim Jong il Portrait.jpg Kim Jong-il
(1942–2011)
8 October 1997 Incumbent Workers' Party of Korea
First Secretary of the Party
1 Kim Jong-Un Photorealistic-Sketch.jpg Kim Jong-un
(born 1983)
11 April 2012 Incumbent Workers' 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]

Picture Name
(Born–Died)
Took office Left office Political Party
Chairmen of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly
1 No image.svg Kim Tu-bong
(1886–1957?)
9 September 1948 20 September 1957 Workers' Party of Korea
2 No image.svg Choe Yong-gon
(1900–1976)
20 September 1957 28 December 1972 Workers' Party of Korea
President of the Republic
1 Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpg Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
28 December 1972 Incumbent Workers' Party of Korea
Presidents of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly
3 No image.svg Yang Hyong-sop
(born 1925)
8 July 1994 5 September 1998 Workers' Party of Korea
4 No image.svg Kim Yong-nam
(born 1928)
5 September 1998 Incumbent Workers' 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]

Picture Name
(Born–Died)
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 Workers' Party of Korea
Premier of the Administration Council
1 No image.svg Kim Il
(1910–1984)
28 December 1972 29 April 1976 Workers' Party of Korea
2 No image.svg Pak Song-chol
(1913–2008)
19 April 1976 16 December 1977 Workers' Party of Korea
3 Li Jong-ok.jpg Ri Jong-ok
(1916–1999)
16 December 1977 27 January 1984 Workers' Party of Korea
4 No image.svg Kang Song-san
(1931–2007)
27 January 1984 29 December 1986 Workers' Party of Korea
5 No image.svg Ri Kun-mo
(born 1926)
29 December 1986 12 December 1988 Workers' Party of Korea
6 No image.svg Yon Hyong-muk
(1931–2005)
12 December 1988 11 December 1992 Workers' Party of Korea
7 No image.svg Kang Song-san
(1931–2007)
11 December 1992 21 February 1997 Workers' Party of Korea
No image.svg Hong Song-nam
(1929–2009)
Acting Premier
21 February 1997 5 September 1998 Workers' Party of Korea
Premiers of the Cabinet
2 No image.svg Hong Song-nam
(1929–2009)
5 September 1998 3 September 2003 Workers' Party of Korea
3 No image.svg Pak Pong-ju
(born 1939)
3 September 2003 11 April 2007 Workers' Party of Korea
4 No image.svg Kim Yong-il
(born 1944)
11 April 2007 7 June 2010 Workers' Party of Korea
5 No image.svg Choe Yong-rim
(born 1930)
7 June 2010 1 April 2013 Workers' Party of Korea
6 No image.svg Pak Pong-ju
(born 1939)
1 April 2013 Incumbent Workers' Party of Korea

Heads of parliament[edit]

Picture Name
(Born–Died)
Took office Left office Political Party
Chairmen of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly
1 No image.svg Kim Tu-bong
(1886–1957?)
9 September 1948 20 September 1957 Workers' Party of Korea
2 No image.svg Choe Yong-gon
(1900–1976)
20 September 1957 28 December 1972 Workers' Party of Korea
3 Hwang Jang Yeop.jpg Hwang Jang-yop
(1923–2010)
28 December 1972 1983 Workers' Party of Korea
4 No image.svg Yang Hyong-sop
(born 1925)
1983 5 September 1998 Workers' Party of Korea
Chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly
5 No image.svg Choe Thae-bok
(born 1930)
5 September 1998 Incumbent Workers' Party of Korea

Heads of the military[edit]

Flag of the Korean People's Army
Picture Name
(Born–Died)
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)
1950 28 December 1972 Workers' Party of Korea
Chairman of the National Defence Commission
1 Kim Il Sung Portrait-2.jpg Kim Il-sung
(1912–1994)
28 December 1972 9 April 1993 Workers' Party of Korea
2 Kim Jong il Portrait.jpg Kim Jong-il
(1942–2011)
9 April 1993 Incumbent Workers' Party of Korea
First Chairman of the National Defence Commission
1 Kim Jong-Un Photorealistic-Sketch.jpg Kim Jong-un
(born 1983)
13 April 2012 Incumbent Workers' 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]

References[edit]