Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army

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Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army
Standard of the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army -vector21.svg
Chosŏn'gŭl 조선인민군 최고사령관
Hancha 朝鮮人民軍最高司令官
Revised Romanization Joseon Inmin-gun Choego Saryeonggwan
McCune–Reischauer Chosŏn Inmin'gun Ch'oego Saryŏnggwan
Emblem of North Korea.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
North Korea
Foreign relations

The Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army is the highest post in command of the Korean People's Army (KPA), the armed forces of North Korea, and is in charge of one of the largest standing armies in the world with around 5.9 million active duty personnel and reserves.

Constitutionally, the post is tied to the chairmanship of the country's National Defense Commission. According to the constitution of North Korea: "The First Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the supreme commander of the whole armed forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and commands and directs all the armed forces of the State."[1]


Kim Il-sung was the first Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army upon the founding of North Korea on 1948 after which he was selected to be the leader of the country. He, upon assumption of power organized the KPA and had the Soviet Union then equipped it with modern weapons, tanks, planes, artillery and ships. During the Korean War, Kim Il-sung then the General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) as well as the premier of the government and KPA Supreme Commander took care of the military operations only to be deprived of command by China in the latter stages. After the war, he resumed command of the KPA even after his election as President of North Korea in 1972. On the 1990s as he was aged, Kim relinquished the post of Supreme Commander of the KPA as well as the chairmanship of the country's National Defense Commission that supervises military matters to his son and designated heir as the next leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il one year before his demise on 1994. The elder Kim remained as the President of North Korea, General-Secretary of WPK and Chairman of the party's Central Military Commission, a party organ propagating politics in military affairs. After Kim Il Sung's death on 1994, Kim Jong Il, being the new leader of the country and KPA Supreme Commander imposed Songun policy that prioritizes first the military affairs of the country than anything else. Kim Jong-il in his own death on 2011 was succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un,who replaced him also as the new leader of the country. Kim Jong-un was publicly declared as the new Supreme Commander by the Rodong Sinmun, on 24 December 2011 and officially appointed to the position on 30 December 2011.[2][3]

List of supreme commanders

Name Term Life span
Kim Il-sung 8 February 1948 – 24 December 1991 15 April 1912 – 8 July 1994 (aged 82)
Kim Jong-il 24 December 1991 – 17 December 2011 16 February 1941 – 17 December 2011 (aged 70)
Kim Jong-un 30 December 2011 – Present 8 January 1983 – Present (age 32)


  1. "Article 102". Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (PDF). Amended and supplemented on April 1, Juche 102 (2013), at the Seventh Session of the Twelfth Supreme People's Assembly. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House. 2014. p. 22. ISBN 978-9946-0-1099-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "N.Korea declares Kim Jong-Un commander of military". Agence France-Presse. December 30, 2011. Retrieved December 30, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "North Korea: Kim Jong-un hailed 'supreme commander'". BBC News. 2011-12-24. Retrieved 2011-12-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>