Judiciary of North Korea

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
North Korea

The North Korean judicial system is based on the Soviet model.[1] It includes the Supreme Court of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Provincial and special-city level Courts, local People's Courts, and Special Courts.

The Central Court is the highest court, with its judges appointed by the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA). According to the Constitution of North Korea, the Central Court is accountable to the SPA, and the Criminal Code subjects judges to criminal liability for handing down "unjust sentences".[1]

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the highest court and court of appeal in North Korea.

The court is headed by a Chief Judge or President, two Associate Chief Judges/Vice Presidents and unknown number of regular Justices.[2]

The court's home was completed in 2010[3]

Former Chief Judges and Associate Judges

Lower Courts of North Korea

Below the high court are two other judicial levels:[2]

  • Provincial Court or Court of the Province - 9 courts
  • People's Courts or Court of the County

Judicial independence

Article 157 of the Constitution states that "cases are heard in public, and the accused is guaranteed the right to a defense; hearings may be closed to the public as stipulated by law". The lack of judicial independence is also evidenced by Article 11 of the Prosecution Supervisory Law that stipulates "The prosecutor(s) shall supervise whether the trial or arbitration of a case is accurately deliberating and resolving the legal requirements and in a timely manner."[5]


The Constitution states that justice is administered by the Central Court, Provincial or special-city level courts, the People's Court or Special Courts, and the courts are accountable to the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) or when it is not in session, its Presidium.[6]

Legal profession

North Korean attorneys must join the Choson Bar Association. The association's Central Committee determines professional standards, as well as the qualifying or disqualifying of attorneys. Attorneys are not hired by individuals or agencies, but rather the committee collects legal representation requests and then assigns cases and pays remunerations to the assignee. However, attorneys do not have a monopoly on providing legal services as anyone might provide representation in civil or criminal proceedings. The Law College at Kim Il Sung University is the only university-level institution that provides legal education.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b DeRouen, Karl R.; Bellamy, Paul, eds. (2007). International Security and the United States: An Encyclopedia. 1. Westport: Praeger Security International. p. 567. ISBN 978-0-313-08486-7.
  2. ^ a b "North Korea - The Judiciary".
  3. ^ "New DPRK Central Court". 25 January 2010.
  4. ^ "Former DPRK Courts' Boss Kim Pyong Ryul Dies". 6 November 2013.
  5. ^ Korea Institute for National Unification, 2011 White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea, pg. 180-81.
  6. ^ Article 162 of the North Korean Constitution
  7. ^ Seoul, Yonhap News Agency (2002-12-27). North Korea Handbook. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 9780765635235.

Further reading

  • Kim Il-sung (1971). "For the Implementation of the Judicial Policy of Our Party: Speech Delivered at the National Conference of Judicial Workers and Public Prosecutors, April 29, 1958". Selected Works. II. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House. pp. 132–148. OCLC 873247887.
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