Parliament of North Korea

Supreme People's Assembly
최고 인민 회의
Choego Inmin Hoe-ui
Type Unicameral
President of the Presidium Kim Yong-nam, Workers' Party
Since 5 September 1998
Chairman of the Assembly Choe Thae-bok
Vice-Chairman Kim Wan-su, Hong Son Ok
Seats 687
Political groups

     Workers' Party (601)
     Social Democrats (51)
     Chondoist Chongu (21)

     Independents (13)
Last election 8 March 2009
General Election 2009
Meeting place
Mansudae Assembly Hall, Pyongyang

The Supreme People's Assembly (Hangul: 최고 인민 회의) is the unicameral parliament of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly known as North Korea. It consists of one deputy from each of 687 constituencies, elected to five-year terms.

North Korea is a single-party state with the Workers' Party of Korea in power. Although two other parties exist, they are completely subservient to the WPK, which is granted a monopoly of power under the constitution . All candidates for the Supreme People's Assembly are picked by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, led by Kim Jong-un. The body in turn is dominated by the WPK.

Although the Supreme People's Assembly is North Korea's primary legislative body, it ordinarily delegates authority to the smaller and more powerful Presidium, chosen from among its members.


In 1990 the composition of the SPA was 601 seats held by the Workers' Party of Korea, 51 seats held by the Korean Social Democratic Party, 22 seats held by the Chondoist Chongu Party and 13 seats held by independents.[1]

The last convention during Kim Il-sung's reign took place in April 1994, 3 months before his death. Then during the mourning period the assembly did not meet, nor did elections take place. The next meeting convened in September 1998, four years after Kim's death.[2]

Kim Jong-il did not make a speech at the first session of the 10th SPA in 1998. Instead, members listened to a tape-recorded speech of the late Kim Il Sung, which was made at the first session of the 9th SPA, in 1991. The enhanced status of the Korean People's Army was anticipated by the SPA election July 1998, when 101 military officials were elected out of 687 delegates. This was a large increase from the 57 military officials elected during the 9th SPA in 1990.

Kim Yong-nam has been president of the Assembly Presidum and de jure head of state of North Korea since 1998. Choe Thae-bok, Kim Wan-su and Hong Son Ok are the Vice-Chairmen.[3]

On April 14, 2012, during the fifth session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly Kim Jong Un was elected as the country's supreme leader. Addressing the SPA session, Kim Yong Nam, president of the SPA Presidium, said Kim's accession to the DPRK's top post reflected "the ardent desire and unanimous will of all the party members, servicepersons and other people".[4]

Elections and membership

Under the Constitution of North Korea, all citizens 17 and older, regardless of party affiliation, political views, or religion, are eligible to be elected to the parliament and vote in elections.

All candidates are selected by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland in mass meetings held to decide which candidates will be nominated and their names can only go on the ballot paper with the approval of the meeting. The Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland is a popular front dominated by the Korean Worker's Party, in which almost all power rests. The other participants in the coalition include the two other de facto legal political parties, the Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party, as well as various other member organizations including social groups and youth groups, such as the Korean section of the Pioneer movement, the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, the Korean Democratic Women's League, and the Red Cross Society of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Elections are ostensibly by secret ballot. However, only one candidate who has been selected by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland appears on the ballot. A voter may cross off the candidate's name to vote against him, but must do so in a special booth without any secrecy. According to many North Korean defectors, such an act of defiance is too risky to even attempt.[5]


According to the Constitution of North Korea, it is the highest branches of state power. In practice, it merely serves as a rubber stamp for decisions already made by the nation's executive branches and the Workers' Party. The SPA always passes all proposals by the government into law during its sessions with almost no debate or modification .

The Assembly is convened once or twice a year in regular sessions of several days each. At all other times, the Presidium serves as the country’s legislature. Extraordinary sessions of the Assembly can also meet when called by the Presidium or by one third of the Assembly deputies.

The functions of the SPA are:[6]

  • Adopting, amending or supplementing enactments to the constitution
  • Determining State policy and budgets
  • Elections of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and members of the National Defence Commission
  • Election of the President and other members of the Presidium
  • Elections of legal officials
  • Appointing President, Vice-President and other members of the Cabinet
  • Receiving reports and adopting measures on the Cabinet

The Constitution is amended when approved by more than two thirds of the number of deputies.[6]


The Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly is the highest organ of power in North Korea. It exercises legislative power when the SPA is in recess, which occurs during all but a few days of every year. Kim Yong-nam is the current President of the Presidium.[3]

The Presidium consists of the President, Vice-Presidents, secretaries and other members. The functions of the Presidium are to:[6]

  • Convene sessions of the Supreme People's Assembly
  • Examine and approve new state legislation when the SPA is in recess
  • Interpret and enact the Constitution and legislation
  • Form or dissolve state ministries
  • Supervise laws of State organs
  • Organize elections to the Supreme People's Assembly
  • Ratify treaties with foreign countries
  • Appoint, transfer, or remove officials and judges when the SPA is not in session
  • Grant special pardons or amnesties

In addition to its executive functions, the Presidium also receives credentials of diplomatic representatives from foreign countries.[6]

According to the 1998 Constitution, the Presidium and the President of the Presidium succeed the Assembly's Standing Committee and the Chairman of the Standing Committee; the latter post was both the speaker of the Assembly and the head of State before the creation of the President of the DPRK. Currently, the President of the Presidium is the head of State, while the Chairman of the Assembly is the SPA speaker.


See also

External links

  • North Korean Government, CIA World Factbook
  • FACTBOX - North Korea's main political bodies and power, Reuters.
  • First Session of 12th Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea Held

Coordinates: 39°01′43″N 125°44′59″E / 39.02861°N 125.74972°E / 39.02861; 125.74972

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