North Korean Leadership Structure

This page will offer a short guide to North Korea’s government and leadership.  It will offer brief biographies on current North Korean leaders and a few of the major leaders who have been purged in the past few years.[1]

Eternal President: Kim Il-sung

Kim Il-sung took the reigns as North Korea’s leader after his return from Manchuria where he stood out as a rebel fighting the Japanese during the occupation of Korea. Kim was chosen to lead Pyongyang by the Soviets due to a slew of reasons. After gaining a firm control on power, Kim orchestrated a series of purges, eliminating the Soviet control and establishing himself as the true leader of North Korea. His style centered on public appearances, cementing his image as the fatherly leader of the North Korean revolution.

Eternal General Secretary of the Worker’s Party: Kim Jung-il

Kim Jung-il took over power following his father’s death in July of 1994, marking the first-ever familial passing in the communist world. Some have argued, however, that Kim Jung-il was the man operating North Korea while his father was growing old. Separating with his father’s leadership style, Kim Jung-il was a recluse, choosing instead to pull the strings of the nation from behind the curtain. It was under Kim Jung-il that North Korea started to pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in a fervent manner.

Chairman of the Worker’s Party of Korea: Kim Jung-un

Kim Jung-un took power following his father’s death in December of 2011. Unlike his father, Kim Jung-un rose through the ranks quickly, becoming leader after only a few years of grooming. In order to bridge the gaps left by his father, Kim Jung-un has harkened back to grandfather’s style of leadership–numerous public appearances, congresses, and even looking like his grandfather. Under Kim Jung-un, North Korea has pursued a fervent push for WMDs under the Byongjin line, a policy focusing on economic and nuclear advancement.

State Affairs Commission

Vice Chairman: Choe Rong-hae; Hwang Pyong-so; Pak Pong-ju

Members: Choe Pu-il; Kim Ki-nam; Kim Won-hong; Kim Young-chol; Pak Young-shik; Ri Man-gon; Ri Su-young; Ri Young-ho


[1] The main source for names on this page is the CIA Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments Database. All other sources are noted within the biographies of agencies or people above.