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N. Korea changes constitution to make Kim Jong-un official head of state

All Headlines 16:22 July 11, 2019

SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has revised its constitution to stipulate that leader Kim Jong-un is the official head of state, according to a state media outlet.

The new constitution, revised in April's Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) session, states that the chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC), the communist state's highest seat of power, serves as its supreme leader that "represents the country," according to Naenara, a North Korean propaganda website.

Kim rules the North as chairman of the State Affairs Commission.

The website unveiled the full text of the new constitution.

The previous constitution only stated that the chairman of the SAC served as supreme leader. Under the previous version, it was the president of the Presidium of the SPA who represents the country as nominal head of state.

The new constitution still states that the president of the Presidium of the SPA represents the country and receives credentials from foreign envoys. That appears to mean that the post represents the country only symbolically when receiving diplomatic credentials.

Speculation has arisen that the North could push for revision of its constitution to make Kim the official head of state after the leader was not on the ballot in nationwide elections in March to select new deputies to the 14th SPA.

It was the first time that a North Korean leader's name did not appear on the ballot in the elections. Nor was his name among the newly-elected deputies.

Kim was re-elected as chairman of the SAC in April. Pyongyang's state media earlier addressed him by using a new title of "supreme representative," spawning speculation over a possible constitutional revision to expand Kim's power.

In April, Choe Ryong-hae, considered one of the closest aides to the leader, was elected to replace Kim Yong-nam as the president of the Presidium of the SPA.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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