Supreme People's Assembly

Supreme People's Assembly
최고 인민 회의 最高人民會議
Choego Inmin Hoe-ui
Coat of arms or logo
President of the Presidium
Kim Yong-nam, WPK
Since 5 September 1998
Chairman of the Assembly
Kim Wan-su, Hong Son Ok
Seats 687
Political groups
Last election
9 March 2014
Meeting place
Mansudae Assembly Hall, Pyongyang
Chosŏn'gŭl 최고인민회의
Hancha 最高 人民 會議
Revised Romanization Choego Inmin Hoeui
McCune–Reischauer Ch’oego Inmin Hoeŭi
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
North Korea
Foreign relations

The Supreme People's Assembly (Chosongul: 최고 인민 회의) is the unicameral legislature 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.[1]

The constitution recognizes the Workers' Party as the leading party of the state. The Workers' Party, led by Kim Jong-un, governs the DPRK in a monopoly coalition with the Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party called the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland. Elections are held in five-year intervals, the most recent taking place in 2014.

Although the Supreme People's Assembly is the primary legislative body of the DPRK, 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.[2]

The last convention during Kim Il-sung's government took place in April 1994, three 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.[3]

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.[4]

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".[5] His status as leader was reaffirmed when he was elected unopposed by the people on March 9, 2014 in a record turn-out of voters. Kim had nominated to represent his district, the symbolic Mount Paekduto, in the assembly election. Voters could vote yes or no with all voting in the affirmative, according to government officials.

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 legislature 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 them, but must do so in a special booth without any secrecy. Many North Korean defectors claimed that such an act of defiance is too risky to even attempt.[6]


According to the Constitution of North Korea, it is the highest organ of state power in the country. In practice, like former Eastern Bloc legislatures, it does little more than rubber-stamp decisions already made by the country's executive organs and the Workers' Party. The Assembly is convened once or twice a year in regular sessions of several days each. At all other times, the Presidium acts for the Assembly. 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:[7]

Constitutional amendments require the approval of two-thirds of the deputies.[7]


The Presidium exercises legislative power when the SPA is in recess, which occurs during all but a few days of every year. For all intents and purposes, it is the highest organ of state power in North Korea. Kim Yong-nam is the current President of the Presidium.[4]

The Presidium consists of the President, Vice-Presidents, secretaries and other members. The functions of the Presidium are to:[7]

In addition to its executive functions, the Presidium also receives credentials of diplomatic representatives from foreign countries.[7]

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. Prior to the creation of the post of President of the DPRK in 1972, the Chairman of the Standing Committee was the country's de jure head of state. Currently, the Chairman of the Assembly is the SPA speaker while the President of the Presidium is the nominal head of state.

See also


  1. "DPRK Holds Election of Local and National Assemblies". People's Korea. Archived from the original on 2013-03-31. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  2. Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments
  3. "North Korean legislature seen set to name Kim president", CNN, August 20, 1998.
  4. 1 2 Dae-woong, Jin (2007-10-04). "Who's who in North Korea's power elite". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
  5. "DPRK revises constitution, elects Kim Jong Un as top leader", 2012-04-14
  6. "North Korea votes for new rubber-stamp legislature," Associated Press, March 8, 2009.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Europa Publications Staff. (2002). The Far East and Australasia 2003. Routledge. pp. 680. ISBN 978-1-85743-133-9

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

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