Constitution Day: December 27
Constitution Day is a public holiday in North Korea.
Many countries have strong constitutions backed on solid principals and strong government. Others have constitutions backed on dictatorships and false promises. Some are living documents while others are static.
The constitution of North Korea has existed since 1972, yet many view it in a negative light. Regardless of world views on North Korea’s constitution and government, every year on December 27 it observes Constitution Day.
History of Constitution Day in North Korea
After the Korean War, North Korea wanted to consolidate, repairing its infrastructure and putting industrial production back online. These efforts were highlighted with the campaigning of then leader Kim Il-sung’s policy of Juche, one that taught that “man is the master of everything and decides everything.” This process of self-reliance was inherent in all efforts made by Kim Il-sung.
The country was encouraged to grow using domestic resources as often as possible.
As prime minister of the country, Kim Il-sung wanted to spread these ideas to the people and strengthen his base of power at the same time. What resulted was the creation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Socialist Constitution.
The constitution was authored by Kim Il-sung, and his son and current leader Kim Jong-Il helped to perfect it. The constitution effectively made Kim Il-sung the president of the country and documented how socialism would be used to reflect the will of the North Korean people. On December 27, 1972, Kim Il-sung signed the constitution into effect, realizing his cause of Juche.
After Kim Il-sung’s death in 1994, his son Kim Jong-Il took over. The constitution has since been revised at least three times, once in April 1992, again in September 1998, and once more in April of 2009.
In 1998, Kim Jong-Il dispersed the roles of the presidency across many different organizations, leaving many to wonder who was in control. The April 2009 revisions added references to Kim Jong-Il as the “supreme leader” of North Korea, removing much of the ambiguity. The 2009 updates also removed references to communism and placed more emphasis on his policy of songun, a focus on the military.
North Korea’s Constitution Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
It’s difficult to say how the people of North Korea truly view the constitution and the leader behind it. Despite the addition of references to more human rights in the 2009 update, many experts agree that the references are mostly cosmetic. As fears of retribution keep vocal disagreement to a minimum, it’s difficult to gauge how the people feel about the constitution and what it offers them. As human rights issues continue to plague the country, there are implications that many North Korean citizens don’t joyfully celebrate this holiday.