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Published on Dec 20, 2011
Kim Jong-il officially took the titles of General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the National Defense Commission on 8 October 1997. In 1998, his Defense Commission chairmanship was declared to be "the highest post of the state", so Kim may be regarded as North Korea's head of state from that date. Also in 1998, the Supreme People's Assembly wrote the president's post out of the constitution in memory of Kim Il-Sung, who was designated the country's "Eternal President". It can be argued, though, that he became the country's leader when he became leader of the Workers' Party; in most Communist countries the party leader is the most powerful person in the country.