North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un now officially the head of state and commander in chief of the military for the nation after their constitution was amended recently.
Revisions to the nation’s constitution that were made during the first session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly in April have now been posted to their state website Naenara.
According to Article 100, Kim Jon Un’s official position, chairman of the State Affairs Commission, is now defined as not only the “supreme leader” but as one who “represents the nation.” Before his official title basically just gave him a nominal leadership position.
Before, the role as head of state was given to the president of parliament or the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.
Kim Dong-yup, a professor at Kyungnam University’s Far East Institute in Seoul, says, “Kim had dreamed of becoming president of North Korea, and he effectively made it come true.”
He also said that “He has long sought to shake off the abnormal military-first policy the country has stick to for a long time.”
Kim Jong Un succeeded his late father in 2011 and has since had an absolute rule in the country. However, this new amendment sees that he is now given formal power over diplomatic affairs and not just over its military forces.
The new role will not be new to the leader though, as he has participated in meetings with several countries including China, the US, Russia, and of course, South Korea during the last year.
During each of these meetings, diplomats have tried to persuade the denuclearization of North Korea in hopes that peace would be brought to the area.
While no certain agreements have been made at this point, it is noted that the leader’s willingness to meet with each country and even begin these talks is a sign that he is trying to be more internationally involved and a compromise may yet be reached.
Some would also say that his new title change may have been given in hopes that peace could be made with the US in a formal capacity.
Peace between the two nations has been sought after on both sides since the end of the 1950-1953 Korean war, which ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty. Therefore, there is still a technical state of war between North Korea and the US.
A senior researcher of the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul Hong Min says, “the amendment may well be a change to establish Kim’s status as the signer of a peace treaty when it comes while projecting the image of the country as a normal state.”
His recent warm meeting President Donald Trump is more evidence that peace may yet be on its way. When the two met in June, Trump made history as the first sitting US president to meet with a supreme leader from North Korea. He was also the first to be allowed to step into the nation of North Korea itself, albeit briefly.
While an official agreement has not been made, continued talks are scheduled to take place later this month. And until then, both Kim Jong Un and Trump have maintained a public trust of one another.
This gives Washington the idea that relations between the two nations can be normalized as talks continue and tensions are reduced with the much more open liaison offices. The US too has seemed to shift slightly on the matter, saying that it will be a slow step by step process instead of pushing hard on its unconditional denuclearization-first position.
At least that is the hope.
However, there are several who doubt that any change will occur as a result of Kim’s new title, as he has been acting out the duties of the title for some time now. While he has sought to change his image as a leader of late, he still denies accusations of human rights abuses by other nations and continues to boast of his ability to bring nuclear force to anyone who would attack his country.
The new constitution still describes North Korea a nuclear weapons state, leaving little doubt that it will operate as such.
Only time will tell.