September 26, 2023

Making sense of Kim Jong Un’s new position: who is North Korea’s head of state?

Confusion stems from a misunderstanding of what 'head of state' actually means

The latest revisions to the North Korean Constitution have us asking 'who is the head of state?' again. Is it Kim Jong Un? Is it Choe Ryong Hae, the head of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly?

I will attempt to answer this question here. I have to warn readers though -- this column will be largely a scholastic exercise, as Kim Jong Un had supreme power before and after the revision, and the situation has not changed since December 19, 2011 when it was announced he had taken the reigns of power after the death of his father.