Rest in Peace Kim Jong-Il
On 8 July 1994, Kim Jong-il's father, Kim Il-sung died, at the age of 82 from a heart attack. However, it took three years for Kim Jong-il to consolidate his power. He officially took the titles of General Secretaryof the Workers' Party of Korea on 8 October 1997 and Chairman of the National Defense Commission on 9 April 1993. In 1998, his Defense Commission chairmanship was declared to be "the highest post of the state", so Kim may be regarded as North Korea's head of state from that date. Also in 1998, the Supreme People's Assembly wrote the president's post out of the constitution in memory of Kim Il-Sung, who was designated the country's "Eternal President". It can be argued, though, that he became the country's leader when he became leader of the Workers' Party; in most Communist countries the party leader is the most powerful person in the country.
Officially, Kim was part of a triumvirate heading the executive branch of the North Korean government along with Premier Choe Yong-rim and parliament chairman Kim Yong-nam (no relations). Each nominally held powers equivalent to a third of a president's powers in most other presidential systems. Kim Jong-il was commander of the armed forces, Choe Yong-rim headed the government and Kim Yong-nam handled foreign relations. In practice, however, Kim Jong-il exercised absolute control over the government and the country.
Although Kim was not required to stand for popular election to his key offices, he was unanimously elected to the Supreme People's Assembly every five years, representing a military constituency, due to his concurrent capacities as KPA Supreme Commander and Chairman of the DPRK NDC.
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