New N.Korea charter seems to boost Kim's authority
Fri, Sep 25, 2009

SEOUL - South Korea is analysing changes to North Korea's constitution which apparently strengthen the authority of leader Kim Jong-Il, an official said Friday.

"The government has obtained the full text of the North's constitution and is currently studying it," unification ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-Ju told a briefing.

Radio Free Asia said Thursday the revisions made in April to the communist state's charter seem to bolster Kim's rule.

The radio said the new constitution for the first time drops the use of the term "communism."

It refers instead to the "songun" policy of Kim Jong-Il and the "juche" philosophy promoted by his father and founding president Kim Il-Sung.

Songun, a military-first policy, prioritises the welfare of soldiers over civilians. Juche calls for self-reliance in national affairs.

"What we have learned of the constitution seems to be in line with recent media reports," spokeswoman Lee said, adding the government will decide whether to disclose the text after it completes the analysis.

North Korea decided to revise its constitution at a parliamentary meeting in April attended by Kim, his first appearance at a major public event since a reported stroke in August 2008.

It was the first change to the charter for almost 11 years.

The meeting also re-elected Kim, 67, as chairman of the country's most powerful organ, the National Defence Commission (NDC) which oversees the 1.2 million member military.

The number of NDC members was increased from nine to 13, with Kim's influential brother-in-law Jang Song-Thaek securing one of the seats.

Radio Free Asia, in a report on its website, said the 1998 constitution mentioned communism three times.

It said the revised version omits any mention of it but uses "Songun" and "Juche" together in some phrases - indicating the North now treats the two philosophies equally.

The radio said the revised constitution also clarifies the role of the NDC, saying its chairman should guide state affairs and plan important policies.


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