|“||The core in the Juche outlook on the revolution is loyalty to the party and the leader. The cause of socialism and communism is started by the leader and is carried out under the guidance of the party and the leader.||„|
|~ Kim Jong-il|
The Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) is the founding and ruling political party of North Korea. It is the largest party represented in the Supreme People's Assembly and coexists de jure with two other legal parties making up the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland. However, these minor parties are completely subservient to the WPK, and must accept the WPK's "leading role" as a condition of their existence.
It was founded in 1949 with the merger of the Workers' Party of North Korea and the Workers' Party of South Korea. The WPK also controls the Korean People's Army. This political party (and all of the other parties in the DPRK) remains illegal in South Korea under South Korea's own National Security Act and is sanctioned by Australia, the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States.
North Korea invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950—and thus began the Korean War. With American intervention in the war, the DPRK nearly collapsed, but it was saved by Chinese intervention in the conflict. The war had the effect of weakening Soviet influence over Kim Il-sung and the WPK.
Relations worsened between the WPK and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) when Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, began pursuing a policy of de-Stalinization. During the Sino–Soviet conflict, an ideological conflict between the CPSU and the Communist Party of China (CPC), Kim Il-sung maneuvered between the two socialist superpowers; by doing so, he weakened their influence on the WPK.
The WPK is organized according to the Monolithic Ideological System and the Great Leader, a system and theory conceived by Kim Yong-ju and Kim Jong-il. The highest body of the WPK is formally the Congress, but in practice, a Congress occurs infrequently. Between 1980 and 2016, there were no congresses held. Although the WPK is organizationally similar to communist parties, in practice it is far less institutionalized and informal politics plays a larger role than usual. Institutions such as the Central Committee, the Executive Policy Bureau, the Central Military Commission (CMC), the Politburo and the Politburo's Presidium have much less power than that formally bestowed on them by the party's charter, which is little more than a nominal document. Kim Jong-un is the current WPK leader, serving as Chairman and CMC chairman.
The WPK is committed to Juche, an ideology which has been described as a combination of collectivism and nationalism; and at the 4th Conference (held in 2012), the party charter was amended to state that Kimilsungism–Kimjongilism was "the only guiding idea of the party". At the 3rd Conference (held in 2010), the WPK removed a sentence from the preamble which expressed the party's commitment "to building a communist society", replacing it with a new adherence to Songun, the "military-first" policies developed by Kim Jong-il. The 2009 revision had already removed all references to communism. Party ideology has recently focused on perceived imperialist enemies of the party and state, and on legitimizing the Kim family's dominance of the political system. Before the rise of Juche and later Songun, the party was committed to Marxist–Leninist thought as well, with its importance becoming greatly diminished over time.
The WPK maintains a leftist image and normally sends a delegation to the International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties, where it has some support; its 2011 resolution, "Let us jointly commemorate the Birth Centenary of the Great Leader comrade President Kim Il Sung as a Grand Political Festival of the World’s Humankind", was signed by 30 of the 79 attending parties. The WPK also sees itself as part of the worldwide leftist and socialist movement; during the Cold War, the WPK and North Korea had a policy of "exporting revolution", aiding leftist guerrillas worldwide. However, others argue the WPK ideology is xenophobic nationalist or far-right.
The party's emblem is an adaptation of the communist hammer and sickle, with a traditional Korean calligraphy brush. The symbols represent the industrial workers (hammer), peasants (sickle), and intelligentsia (ink brush).