Kim Jong-il Opts for Socialism Over Communism

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il apparently explained the deletion of the word "communism" from the country's constitution, which was revised in April. "It is difficult to comprehend communism. I will try to get socialism right," Kim was reported as saying by a spokesman for the state-run Minju Chosun newspaper.

The spokesman was talking to South Korean reporters on the sidelines of inter-Korean family reunions in Mt. Kumgang. "This is the reason behind the deletion of 'communism' from the constitution," he said. "Communism is meant to be a one-class society where there is no distinction between exploiter and exploited, but that system cannot exist while American imperialism lasts."

The term "communism" has been removed from clauses 29, 40 and 43 of the revised constitution, disclosed for the first time on Monday by South Korean officials who obtained a copy.

"It appears that North Korea has decided it is better to be flexible stance and reform the system from a socialist perspective rather than continue droning on about something as anachronistic as communism," said Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korean studies professor at Dongguk University. "Through these changes, North Korea appears to be sending out a message that Kim Jong-il is firmly in control and leading the country."

Meanwhile, Clause 100 of the revised constitution stipulates, "The chairman of the National Defense Committee is the supreme leader," officially recognizing Kim Jong-il's absolute power. Clause 101 stipulates that Kim's term will last as long as the committee exists, and Clause 102 states he serves as the commander in chief of the military. Those clauses did not exist before.

The North Korean leader also formally assumes "special pardoning rights," previously the domain of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, as well as the right to ratify and scrap important treaties, declare states of emergency or war and mobilize the military. Clause 8 stipulates that it is the state's responsibility to protect the human rights of citizens. The old constitution held the state responsible only for the people's safety and welfare.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 29, 2009 08:59 KST