In December of 1972, the Supreme People's Assembly was convened. During this conference, a new constitution was adopted and I was elected chairman of the Assembly and its Standing Committee. Kim Il Sung directed the writing of the constitution and a working group framed it. The first draft of the constitution was debated several times by the Central Committee of the Party, wherein I also made some suggestions. Kim Il Sung drew his conclusions based on the opinions of the conference, and in the end the new constitution was ratified by the Supreme People's Assembly.
The constitution created a national Premier-centered system and an institution called the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly. Until then, the Chief Secretary of the Party had been serving as the Prime Minister of the Cabinet, and the Chairperson of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly had been the nominal leader of the country, just as in the Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union, the Supreme Soviet was recognized as the highest sovereign institution. Therefore the Standing Committee of the Supreme Soviet represented the highest sovereign institution and its permanent chairperson worked as the nominal prime minister.
North Korea had been imitating the Soviet Union’s way. However, under the new constitution, the Chief Secretary of the Party took the role of Premier of the state. When the Supreme People's Assembly was not in session, its Standing Committee was in charge of its work, but the Standing Committee chairman was not given the qualification of Premier. Instead, he only qualified as the Supreme People's Assembly Chairperson. The Supreme People's Assembly Chairperson eventually became the Standing Committee chairman. Foreign newspapers that did not know well about that situation flustered me by reporting that I had become the Premier, and it made me so embarrassed.
One day in 1970, I privately consulted Kim Il Sung. I told him that I would rather enter the Party again and work nearby him, because unlike in the secretary’s office, I did not know much about the Supreme Leader's mind and I could make mistakes. I also lacked a comprehensive knowledge of the political situation and I was having trouble in my research.
"I agree with you, but not everyone is qualified to be the President of Kim Il Sung University. I will try to reach you often," was Kim’s reply.
Not long after that, I was appointed Chairman of the Chosun Scientist’s Association. Just like Chosun Jurist’s Association and Chosun Student’s Association, it was another ghost organization with no substance whose name was used only in order to release statements internationally. Before I took charge, Baek Nam Un had been working as its chair.
I had wondered whether Kim Il Sung was thinking of appointing me Supreme People's Assembly Chairman, but stopped myself thinking like that because I was too young to do that. At that time, socialist countries had started advocating democracy and were pursuing active diplomacy; the reason why Kim Il Sung had created the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly was to let it take charge of diplomacy. Additionally, I could see that the reason why he had appointed me was to try to meet me more frequently by taking the opportunity to meet delegates.
As I was promoted to the Chairperson of the Supreme People's Assembly, my salary increased by 50 won. I was treated even better than government department heads. I had my own office in the Standing Committee building and even a secretary was arranged. I attended academic seminars with seniors such as Kim Il, Im Chun Chu, Park Seong Cheol and Oh Jin Wu. I visited foreign countries several times a year, and I could accompany Kim Il Sung whenever he met scholar delegates along with delegates of the Supreme People's Assembly.
In 1972, I was given a watch on which Kim Il Sung's name was engraved, celebrating his 60th birthday. Kim Il Sung carefully reviewed who would be offered the watch, and only gave it to a few key cadres.