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The Various Flaws Within North Korea’s Government System

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The ‘Democratic’ People’s Republic of Korea commonly known as North Korea, is a country making up the northern section of the Korean Peninsula. Pyeongyang is the capital city. North Korea’s government system is seen as centralized, and only containing one political party. They describe themselves as being a “revolutionary and socialist state”, who have a constitution as well as the ‘Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideological System’. This system establishes standards for governance and a guide for behaviors of North Koreans. When referring to the Constitution, there are three main branches of government.

North Korea is an undemocratic nation, as it fails to uphold various principles required to be seen as a liberal democracy (Separation of Powers, Control of the Media and Rule of Law). An example would be their deliberate abuse against human rights via the government’s routine use of arbitrary arrest and punishment, torture whilst in custody, forced labor and even executions. These methods are used to produce a sense of fear and to maintain control of the citizens.

Separation of Powers in North Korea

When viewing their constitution, it would seem North Korea upholds the democratic principle of Separation of Powers, however in reality this fails to occur, with their government structure containing anything but a Separation of Powers.

Separation of powers is a democratic principle in which the three main bodies of government (Legislative, Executive and Judiciary) are separated to prevent any one branch gaining absolute power.

In North Korea the Executive branch of government is a cabinet of officials picked and dismissed by the chief of state. The legislative branch is made up of the Supreme People’s Assembly where campaigns are run with only single candidates and are not competitive. Laws created in the legislative are given to them and are barely debated on or modified. There is virtually no Separation of Powers, which results in the Supreme Leader having the ability to control all aspects of life. Whether it’s creating and enforcing legislation, controlling the media, there is absolutely no Separation of Powers within North Korea.

The North Korean Constitution states that there is a clear Separation of Powers between the three main branches of government. The Judicial system does not review legislation, security forces frequently interfere with the judiciary that the result of most cases is foregone.

It is apparent that North Korea fails to uphold the principle of Rule of Law, and there are a large number of known cases where dissidents are detained without a trial or the aid of legal services. There are several ways in which North Korea fail to maintain a Separation of Powers, the clearest being the fact the Kim Jong Un practically runs all three sections of government, and has complete control over the decisions made by the government.

Rule of Law in North Korea

North Korea fails to uphold the liberal democratic principle of Rule of Law, due to the large imbalance between the government and its citizens. This imbalance relates to the inequalities between citizens and those in high ranking classes of society in North Korea. Rule of Law is the democratic principle in which all people including the government should be ruled by the law, and obey it.

There are many examples where this principle is not carried out. The majority of people living in North Korea live in extreme poverty. The select few in high ranked positions (i.e. government and party officials, including members of the several police and party organizations) bend the rules to make life better for themselves and their families. It is a common consensus that North Korean society runs on bribes, it could be said this is the norm for those living in North Korea. Protection from arrest or release from jail could be achieved for the right amount of money. The only time this may not apply would be when Kim Jon Un himself was involved, as he has everything and more than the everyday North Korean. With this tradition of bribery, law in itself does not come into effect. Laws are created to limit people to a set of standards and ideas chosen by a community as a whole. North Korea’s legislation is instantly unequal as it favours those in high ranking social classes and positions, with the addition of constant bribery to bypass the laws that were initially created to fulfill the desires of the people.

Control of Media

North Korea cannot be considered a liberal democracy as it doesn’t allow basic freedoms for its citizens, one of which being their tightly controlled country-wide media. Media is a broad term which encompasses various forms of media, whether it be news, entertainment and other information. According the ‘Reporters without Borders’ (RSF) North Korea ranks last in its World Press Freedom Index. Which makes them the strictest country in the measurement, when it comes to technology and media.

North Koreans receive all of their media from a state organization, who’s opinions revolve around praising the Supreme Leader. In recent times, it has become more common for citizens to own a mobile phone, although there are extensive technical measures taken so that the regime can obtain almost complete control over all activity on the national intranet. Full Internet access is only available for an elite few in Pyeongyang, the remaining citizens are restricted to the country’s intranet. In a world, in which many countries revolve around the internet and require it to function, North Korea continues to have an extensive monitoring program, which prevents outside information from meeting its citizens, this allows the regime to continually brainwash North Koreans into believing any information provided to them, whether it be news relating to international success for their economy or in sporting, when quite commonly that this is false. This restriction on the internet, is a clear breach of various human rights and freedoms, preventing people from knowing information from other countries, leaves many uneducated and clueless to what occurs outside of their homeland. For most around the world, keeping up to date with current affairs internationally is the norm, but in North Korea they are only presented information that relates to them.

North Korean journalism is taking very seriously by the regime, with an extensive training and assessment period required before being approved to be a journalist by the ruling government. To become a journalist, one must graduate college, after which an ideology review and strict background check are conducted. The graduated student must then complete a probation period of 4 to 5 year before being appointed a job. Journalism is seen as job in which one must strive to guard, defend and provide support for both the party and its leaders. Fairly similarly to the internet restrictions, North Korean journalism revolves around their own nation, although there are some outside influences, such as propaganda against the U.S.A which creates a sense of hate towards the nation inside of North Korea.


North Korea is a front runner for being one of the world’s least democratic nations. It blatantly breaches various principles required to be considered a Liberal democracy. Although stated in their constitution, there is absolutely no Separation of Powers between the major branches of government. Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un is the Head of all departments within the government meaning that he has complete control over all decisions made by the government. Rule of Law is not present, as there are clear power imbalances between the citizens and those in high ranking positions (i.e. government officials), who get benefits and are seen to be above the law in some ways. There is an unfair control over media within the country, that prevents any information from reaching the people of North Korea. Overall North Korea remains unfair power over their citizens, and although the inclusion of Democratic in their nation title, they can absolutely not be considered as a democratic nation, and they are a long way off being seen as one.

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The Various Flaws Within North Korea’s Government System. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from
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