Eternal leaders of North Korea

Eternal Leaders of Juche Korea
주체조선의 영원한 수령
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Kim Il Sung Kim Jong Il
Incumbent
Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il

since 30 June 2016
ResidenceKumsusan Palace of the Sun (Resting place)
SeatPyongyang, North Korea
Constituting instrumentConstitution of North Korea
Formation28 December 1972; 46 years ago (1972-12-28) (President of North Korea)
5 September 1998 (1998-09-05) (Eternal President of the Republic)
11 April 2012 (2012-04-11) (Eternal General Secretary of the Workers' Party)
13 April 2012 (2012-04-13) (Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission)
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Eternal Leaders of Juche Korea
Chosŏn'gŭl
주체조선의 영원한 수령
Hancha
主體朝鮮의 永遠한 首領
Revised Romanization
Juchejoseonui Yeongwonhan Suryeong
McCune–Reischauer
Chuch'ech'osŏnŭi Yŏngwŏnhan Suryŏng

Eternal leaders of North Korea (주체조선의 영원한 수령) refers to the practice of granting posthumous titles to deceased leaders of North Korea. The phrase "Eternal Leaders of Juche Korea" was established by a line in the preamble to the Constitution, as amended on 30 June 2016, and in subsequent revisions.

It reads (in the original version):

Under the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Korean people will uphold the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as the eternal leaders of Juche Korea...[1]

History of the title

Presidency of North Korea before 1994

The post of President of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was established in the Constitution of North Korea in 1972. Until then, Kim Il-sung held the posts of Premier and General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea.

In 1972, the Presidency was established, and Kim Il-sung was elected to the position by the Supreme People's Assembly, the North Korean legislature, on 28 December 1972. Kim held the Office of President until 1994 when he died, and the position was left vacant and his son and successor Kim Jong-il was not given the title.

"Eternal President"

The revised constitution in 1998 abolished the presidency and declared Kim Il-sung "eternal President."

The preamble of the Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as amended on 5 September 1998 reads:

Under the leadership of the Workers' Party of Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Korean people will hold the great leader Comrade Kim Il-sung in high esteem as the eternal President of the Republic...[2]

The President was the de jure head of state of North Korea, but whose powers were exercised by the "sacred leader" of the nation's state ideology called Juche. According to Ashley J. Tellis and Michael Wills, this amendment to the preamble was an indication of the unique North Korean characteristic of being a theocratic state based on the personality cult surrounding Kim Il-sung. In addition, North Korea adopted a Juche calendar dating from 1912, the year of Kim Il-sung's birth.[3]

The 2012 Constitution once again referred to Kim Il-sung as the "eternal President of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea".[4]

"Eternal General Secretary/Eternal Chairman"

After the death of Kim Jong-il, the constitution was amended in 2012, declaring him Eternal General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission. The title of party leader was changed to "First Secretary".

In 2016, the title "eternal leaders of Juche Korea" was introduced by amending the preamble of the constitution, which was given to Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.