North Korea’s parliament has approved changes to the country’s constitution to solidify leader Kim Jong Un’s role as head of state, official state media said on Thursday.
The move comes after Kim was formally named head of state and commander-in-chief of the military in a new constitution in July that analysts said was possibly aimed at preparing for a peace treaty with the United States.
North Korea has long called for a peace deal with the United States to normalise relations and end the technical state of war that has existed since the 1950-1953 Korean War, which concluded with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
Kim’s legal status as “representing our state has been further consolidated to firmly ensure the monolithic guidance of the Supreme Leader over all state affairs”, state news agency KCNA quoted Choe Ryong Hae, president of the presidium of the supreme people’s assembly, as saying.
The presidium president had historically been the nominal head of state.
But the new constitution said Kim, as chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC), a top governing body created in 2016, was the supreme representative of all the Korean people, as well as “commander-in-chief”.
A previous constitution simply called Kim the “supreme leader” who commanded the country’s “overall military force”.
Thursday’s constitutional amendments appear to confirm that North Korea’s legal system will now recognise Kim as head of state.