SEOUL (Reuters) – Kim Jong Un has been formally appointed head of state in North Korea and commander of the military in a new constitution as observers said was possibly focused on preparing for a peace treaty with the United States.
FILE PHOTO: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the fourth plenary session of the 7th Central Committee of the Labor Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang in the April 10, 2019 photo released on April 11, 2019 in North Korea's Korean Central Bureau news agency ( KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS / File Photo
North Korea has also long demanded a peace agreement with the United States to normalize relations and end the technical war state that has existed since the 1950-1953 Korean war was concluded with a support for violence rather than a peace agreement.
The new constitution, which was unveiled on the Naenara state's portal site on Thursday, said Kim, as chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC), a supreme governing body set up in 2016, was "the highest representative of all Korean people", meaning head of state and "commander".
A previous constitution simply called Kim "supreme leader" who orders the country's "overall military force".
Earlier, North Korea's official head of state was the head of the titular parliament, known as the Supreme People's Assembly Bureau.
"Kim had dreamed of becoming president of North Korea and he did it real," said Kim Dong-yup, professor at the Kyungnam University's Far East Institute in Seoul.
"He has long tried to shake off the abnormal military first policy the country has been stuck for a long time."
Kim shifted his focus to the economy last year, launched nuclear talks with the United States and moved to revive her image as a world leader through the South Korea, China and Russia Summit.
Hong Min, a senior researcher from the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, said the title change was also aimed at preparing for a possible peace treaty with the United States.
"The change may well be a chance to establish Kim's status as the signer of a peace deal when it comes, while drafting the country's image as a normal state," Hong said.
Washington had undertaken to sign a comprehensive peace treaty before North Korea takes significant steps towards nuclear sanitation, but US officials have shown that they may be willing to enter into a more limited agreement to reduce tensions, open liaison offices and move towards normalizing relationships.
Narrative negotiations between the United States and North Korea have been stalled, although healthy talks with Pyongyang will take place this month.
North Korea has frozen nuclear boom and long-distance missile testing since 2017. However, new tested short-haul missiles after a second United States summit in February broke down and US officials believe it has expanded its arsenal by continuing to produce bombs and missiles.
The new constitution continued to describe North Korea as a nuclear state.
In reality, Kim, a third generation hereditary leader, regulates North Korea with an iron fist and the title shift will mean little for how he helps.
Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Further reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Michael Perry