SEOUL (Reuters) – Kim Jong Un has been officially named the head of state of North Korea and commander-in-chief of the military in a new constitution that observers may have been seeking to prepare a peace treaty with the United States.
FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaking at the 4th plenary session of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang on April 10, 2019, published April 11, 2019 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS / File Photo
North Korea has also long called for a peace agreement with the United States to normalize relations and end the technical state of war that existed since the Korean War of 1950-1953.
The new constitution, released on the Naenara state portal on Thursday, states that Kim, as chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC), a supreme governing body created in 2016, was "the supreme representative of the entire Korean people." which means Head of State and "Commander-in-Chief".
An earlier constitution simply referred to Kim as the "Supreme Leader," commanding the country's "entire force."
Earlier, North Korea's official head of state was the president of the titular parliament, known as the presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.
"Kim had dreamed of becoming President of North Korea, and he actually did," said Kim Dong-yup, a professor at the Far East Institute of Kyungnam University in Seoul.
"He has long tried to shake off the abnormal military policy that the country has long held."
Kim focused more on the economy in the past year, held nuclear talks with the United States and moved to renew his image as a global leader through summits with South Korea, China and Russia.
Hong Min, a senior researcher with the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, said the title change also aims to prepare for a possible peace treaty with the United States.
"The change could be an opportunity to establish Kim's status as a signatory to a peace treaty, while projecting the country's image as a normal state," Hong said.
Washington had frowned upon the signing of a comprehensive peace treaty before North Korea took substantial steps toward denuclearization, but US officials have signaled that they may be ready to launch a more limited agreement to reduce tension, open liaison offices, and normalize To close relationships.
The denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea have stalled, although new talks are planned with Pyongyang this month.
North Korea has frozen since 2017 tests with nuclear bombs and long-range missiles. However, after a second summit meeting with the United States in February, new short-range missiles were tested, and US officials believe it has expanded its arsenal by continuing to produce bomb propellants and rockets.
The new constitution continued to describe North Korea as a nuclear weapon state.
In reality, Kim, a third-generation hereditary leader, ruled North Korea with an iron fist, and the title change will mean little to the way he turns power.
Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Michael Perry