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North Korea Politics

State and politics

According to the Constitution, North Korea is a Socialist People's Republic with the Communist Party (Korean Workers' Party) as the leading political force. Although a parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly, exists, the real power lies with the Communist Party. North Korea's undisputed leader, Kim Il Sung, formulated the so-called juche ideology, a development and application of Marxism-Leninism to the conditions in North Korea. Since 1972, this has been enshrined in the Constitution as a leading political ideology. Official policy has been based on the principles of independence and self-reliance in juche ideology in politics, economics and defense and on the mobilization of primarily domestic resources. However, the country has always to some extent traded with the Soviet Union/Russian Federation and China mainly, and has received assistance from these countries.

Political System of North Korea

A fundamental objective in most areas has been to create the conditions, material as well as non-material, for the emergence of the "new, socialist man - the master of nature". The production and distribution funds are owned by the state and by cooperatives. Taxation has been abolished, and private ownership is restricted to personal use. Political life in North Korea has been greatly influenced by the very far-reaching personal cult of Kim Il Sung.

After Kim Il Sung's death in 1994, the powers of power were gradually handed over to his son Kim Jong Il, who in 1993 was appointed the country's commander-in-chief. In October 1997, he took up the post of Secretary General of the Korean Workers' Party. In 1998, the 1972 constitution was changed and the presidential post was abolished. Kim Il Sung was named "eternal president". See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how KP can stand for North Korea.

Kim Jong Il still ruled the country in the role of chairman of the National Defense Committee, which is the state's highest body. Several of the older top politicians in the Communist Party were dismissed after 1995 and a senior adviser to Kim Jong Il jumped off to China. In December 2011 Kim Jong Il passed away and was succeeded by his youngest son, Kim Jong Un.

During the post-war throne in North Korea, there were no indications of a change in the regime's hard-line isolationist policies. The government, despite starvation and agricultural crisis, has so far not shown any clear signs of wanting to implement reforms similar to those implemented in other socialist countries. However, it has accepted foreign aid at the same time as the Jucheid idea exists.

Kim Jong Un's first appearance on the world political scene was in connection with a failed rocket launch in April 2012, an event that caused heavy criticism from, among others, South Korea, Japan and the United States and was considered a further setback in the Korea issue.

North Korea's ambition to supply the country with nuclear weapons can primarily be seen as a strategic positioning against the outside world and mainly the United States. The tactics have intensified under Kim Jong Un's leadership. In February 2013, North Korea conducted a nuclear test, which was strongly condemned by the world community and the country's allied China. New nuclear tests were conducted in January and September 2016, which resulted in the UN Security Council adopting three resolutions imposing stricter sanctions on the country.

Historically strained relations between North Korea and the United States escalated in 2017 following a harsh rhetoric between Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump. Another nuclear test was conducted in September 2017. The explosive force was then at least ten times as large as in the nuclear test 2016.

The relationship between North Korea and South Korea was thawed in the spring of 2018 by the April meeting between the country's leaders, which resulted in promises of a formal peace end in the Korean War before the end of the year, and the Korean Peninsula to be made nuclear-free. The US and North Korea were also approaching each other, which was expressed in the meeting between the country's leaders in 2018, which resulted in an agreement between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un on closer relations in general and a disarmament of North Korea's nuclear weapons in particular.

Judiciary

The country's legal life is dominated by its special social model. The judicial organization consists mainly of public courts, provincial courts and a central court, but the substantive law is underdeveloped and to some extent replaced by ideological doctrines. The death penalty is punished for some serious crimes.

Human Rights

The dictatorship of North Korea's strict control over all information makes reporting on the state's attitude towards and respect for human rights more difficult. The very limited freedom of movement in the country, combined with the difficulties for foreigners to get in touch with North Korean citizens, means that a larger part of the reports are second- and third-hand information.

According to Human Rights Watch, the state systematically violates the rights of its residents and the change of leadership in 2011 meant no change in the state's authoritarian political system.

The government has ratified four important international treaties on human rights, including the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but in practice organized political opposition or free media is not allowed.

All media are state-controlled and critical statements can reportedly be penalized. The Internet is available to a small circle and the possibility of making mobile calls abroad is only available to foreigners. In  Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2015, North Korea is in second place as 179 out of 180 countries.

Arbitrary arrests of regime critics, lack of legal security and torture and ill-treatment of interns in the country's prisons and detention centers are extensive according to testimonies from 2012. Data also shows that the country practices public executions for crimes such as theft of state property and hoarding of food, as well as for serious crime. The criminal law imposes the death penalty for murder, stamping against the state, high treason, terrorism and aid to the enemy.

According to Amnesty International and people who left North Korea during the 2000s, there are large labor camps for dissidents. The conditions at these are venerable and are characterized by starvation as well as heavy forced labor in mines and agriculture. Deaths occur as a result of the circumstances.

The number of women in employment is high and a non-discriminatory culture characterizes the education system. However, duplication works to the greatest extent to women who are expected to both gain employment and be responsible for the home.

According to the official ideology, children are given a special position in society and childcare and education are well developed. But it is at the same time that children are most severely affected by malnutrition as a result of the country's periods of famine and a distribution policy that favors military power and government employees.

No information on LGBTQ persons or their situation is available.

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