Kim Yong-chol / Kim Young-cheol was a member of the Central Military Commission (since 2010) and vice chief of the General Staff (since 2013). From February 2009 to January 2016, he served as the Director General of the Reconnaissance General Department (RGB), the country's leading intelligence agency. Kim Yong-chol was demoted from general to colonel (or lieutenant) general in 2012, but re-promoted to general in February 2013.
Born in 1945 or 1946 in Pyongan North province, North Korea, he attended Mangyongdae Revolutionary School and Kim Il Sung Military University. In 1962 he served in the People's Army 15th Division DMZ Minkyung Company. In 1968 he was promoted to a People's Army Major, and in the same year served as a Lieutenant Officer of the Military Armistice Commission. In 1976, he was appointed commander of the Supreme Guard Command. In February 1989, he was a general of the People's Army, and Deputy Director, People's Armed Forces. From September 1990 to September 1992, he served as the representative of the Inter-Korean High-Level Talks (1st ~ 8th). From March to August 1992, he served as North Korean Chairman of the Military Subcommittee (1st ~ 7th). In May 1992 he served as a member of the South-North Military Joint Committee. In September 1998 he served as the tenth delegate of the Supreme People's Assembly. He has been the twelfth delegate since April 2009. In April 2000, he served as the senior representative of the inter-Korean summit.
General officers from the two Koreas met on May 17-19 at Panmunjom truce village in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The three-day gathering was the third of its kind since June 2004 and the fourth since the inter-Korean summit in 2000. The five-member ROK delegation was led by MND Policy and Planning DG Army Major General Han Min-koo. The DPRK delegation, also consisting of five members, was led by KPA Lieutenant General Kim Yong-chol.
From March 2006 to December 2007, he served as the Lieutenant General of the People's Army, serving as the North Korean representative (3 ~ 7). He was promoted to the People 's Army List, and was the Director General of the General Staff of the KPA.
Nodong Sinmun Online, 29 March 2013 was the first time that the North Korean media identified the existence of the Reconnaissance General Bureau and Gen. Kim Yong-chol as its director. His ties to Kim Jong-un allegedly go back to the early 2000s, when he oversaw Kimís education at Kim Il-sung Military University. Before that, he was in the Guard Command and served as a bodyguard to Kim Jong-il.
He was thought to be the mastermind of the events of the Cheonan warship's sinking, the provocation of Yanping Island by force, and the attack of the Nonghyup's computer system. While there has been speculation over the relationship between Kim Yongchol and Kim Jong-un in recent years, given the formerís demotion and re-promotion, he was a lead voice during the tensions of March/April 2013. In early March, he announced North Koreaís abrogation of the armistice. He is also one of the four military officers in the photograph of Kim Jong-unís military briefing on March 29, 2013. Kim Yong-cholís long-time relationship with Kim Jong-un likely provides him with a private channel of communication, especially on issues related to South Korea and in times of crisis.
In January 2016, he became the Korean Workers' Party Minister of the Central Committee, United Front Work Department after Kim Yang Jian died in a car accident. In May 2016, he was elected as a member of the Seventh Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party, a member of the Political Bureau, the Central Military Committee of the Korean Workers' Party, and vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party. On February 24, 2018, he participated in the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang as a member of the Korean Olympic delegation.
In January 2019, former North Korean intelligence chief and current senior deputy to Kim Jong-un, Kim Yong-chol, visited Washington, where he met in the Oval Office with President Trump and with other senior U.S. government officials. Kim Yong-chol had been designated to be North Korea's counterpart to Secretary of State Pompeo on issues involving the United States. Lieutenant General Kim Yong-chol had been the head of North Korea's Reconnaissance General Bureau. KIM, Yong Chol (a.k.a. KIM, Yong-Chol; a.k.a. KIM, Young-Cheol; a.k.a. KIM, Young-Chol; a.k.a. KIM, Young-Chul); DOB circa 1947; alt. DOB circa 1946; POB Pyongan-Pukto, North Korea.
One cloud over diplomatic engagement was the subsequent disappearance of Kim Yong-chol, North Korean counterpart of Secretary of State Pompeo, and Kim Hyok-chol, counterpart of U.S. Representative for North Korea Policy, Steve Biegun. The disappearance, and later reappearance of Kim Hyok-chol, raised questions about the prospects for serious future engagement. South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited an unidentified source that Kim Yong Chol had been sentenced to hard labor and ideological re-education over the failed summit in Hanoi. The newspaper also reported that senior envoy Kim Hyok Chol, who was involved in pre-summit working-level talks with American officials, was executed with four other officials from the Northís Foreign Ministry for betraying Kim Jong Un after being won over by the United States.
Kim Hyok Chol was reportedly shot dead at Mirim Airport near Pyongyang after his return in March, the daily "Chosun Ilbo" reported. In the past, however, South Korean reports of executions in North Korea have sometimes been wrong. Kim Hyok-chol had not been seen in public, but "sources" said his was alive. Indeed, although he had been reported as purged over the failed nuclear summit with Washington, Kim Yong Chol was shown in state media on 03 June 2019 enjoying a concert near leader Kim Jong Un.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|