Peoplehood and Enmity as Constitutional Categories: Reading North Korea in Historical and Comparative Perspective

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) or North Korea is not particularly well known for having a constitution, let alone several since the foundation of the state in 1948. This paper offers to investigate how North Korea has framed itself as a polity through two key constitutional categories encapsulating not only aspirations but also anxieties: peoplehood and enmity. The analysis will show that outlining whom the DPRK embraces as “the people” and combats as “the enemies” has been part of its constitutional identity from the start while having significantly evolved over time. The changing content and underlying logic of both categories will be traced through successive North Korean constitutional texts as well as compared with what can be found in other national contexts. By reading North Korea in historical and comparative perspective, the paper will ultimately contribute to shedding light on constitutional varieties of peoplehood and enmity within and beyond this country.