Korean Peninsula A to Z

NK Politics / Regime

The National Defense Commission

The NDC (National Defense Commission) is the highest de facto political/administrative body in North Korea. The 1998 constitutional amendments have conferred upon it not only the supreme command over all North Korea armed forces, but also the authority to manage overall national security. Therefore, the NDC performs administrative as well as national defense functions. “The chairmanship of the NDC is a position of the utmost importance and responsibility.
The Chairman of the NDC must combine all of North Korea's political, military, and economic resources to the ends of protecting the nation and its socialist system. The position is a hallowed one, representing the glory of the fatherland and symbolizing the dignity of the People.” (September 5, 1998 from a speech by Kim Young-nam, during the 1st meeting of the 10th SPA) The preceding quote adequately expresses the position and role of the NDC Chairman. The founding logic behind North Korea’s ‘military first’ system as well as the system of absolute one-man rule under Kim Jong-il can be detected here.

An office of unchallenged power, the NDC Chairman has control over political, legislative, judicial, military, and economic affairs.

Mission and Authority of the NDC

  • Directing projects for military fortification and the enhancement of national security
  • Installing or dismounting central national defense organizations and bodies
  • Appointing or dismissing key military officers
  • Creating military titles and conferring them on generals or higher-ranking officers
  • Promulgating state of war and mobilization orders
    The NDC directs and supervises national defense affairs, on which it must answer to the SPA.