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North Korea Space Agency

DPRK National Space Agency

State Space Development Bureau



Ballistic Missile Programs


© By Charles P. Vick (All Rights Reserved)

Senior Technical Analyst, Globalsecurity.org


DPRK State Space Development Bureau

The DPRK Space Agency was established in 2009 under the late Kim Jong-Il's Directive. Not until April 1, 2013 did the DPRK decide to establish the State Space Development Bureau as confirmed by the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA).

" To step up economic construction and improve the people's standard of living by radically developing the space science and technology of the country and guide and manage all the space activities of the DPRK in a uniform way, the SPA decides as follows:

  • The DPRK State Space Development Bureau shall be set up.
  • The bureau is a state central institution which guides and manages the supervision and control over the working out of a space development program and its implementation and space development work in a uniform way.
  • The Cabinet of the DPRK and other institutions concerned shall take practical measures to implement this decision." (7)

North Korea’s Space, Ballistic Missile Administration, Leadership Structures

The ascendancy of the Kim Jong-Un as Marshall and Supreme Leader after his father Kim Jung-Il's passing has caused a major general shake-up changes in the Governments leadership through 2013. There was apparently military insubordination involved in the military side of the government. This was in addition to ministerial replacements due to failures and other issues.

North Korea’s space launch infrastructure facility are well know but until recently as noted below its space administrative infrastructure was undefined. Today in spite of these meager details it must be assumed to be an extension of the authoritarian dynastic (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), DPRK government, military missile industry infrastructure of the ministry of the Korean Peoples Armed Forces (PAF) organization. They in turn all operate under same roof central government employer under the same overall fiscal, Five Year Plan, State Planning directives. (7)

On the State Organs side government we see the Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Kim Jong-Un with the Party Secretary of the Weapons Industry is known to be Pak To-Chun. The real brains behind the Machine Building Industry Department in the ruling Worker's Party [WPK] is (CMC) member Ju Kyu-Chang 1st. Vice Director of the Defense Industry and a member of the National Defense Commission (NDC) [The equivalent of the late minister Afanisiev of the former USSR space and ballistic missile program]. Ju Kyu-Chang spearheaded the ballistic missile and Taep'o-dong series of space launch vehicle developments . He was most recently seen talking with Kim Jung-Un during the the July 27, 2013 sixtieth anniversary military parade. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

On the political side headed by of the government the Political Bureau's member Jon Pyong-Ho, is Secretary of Military Industries [The equivalent of the late minister Ustinov of the former USSR]. Under the leadership of Paek Se-Bong are both Ju Kyu-Chang and Jon Pyong-Ho are on the Second Economic Committee of the DPRK military Hierarch side of the government. First Vice Minister of PAF Jon Chang-bok, Defense Minister PAF and Vice Marshall Jang Jong-Nam member of the central National Defense Commission, Vice Marshall Hyon Yong-Chol Chief of the General Staff of the PAF a standing member of the Party's Politburo part of the ruling WPK Central Committee. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

The ruling Workers Party side of the house leads to the central committee and the Central Military Commission both of which are Vice Chaired by Kim Jong-Un. The ministries and leadership formations seem to some what mimic the former USSR arrangements but not completely with a much more direct down chain of command reality. (1, 2, 3, 4)

he Ballistic Missile & Space Industry

The fourth year plus history of the evolution of the DPRK Defense Industry ballistic missile development started in 1966 as the government command economy poured in its State controlled allocation of material resources, personnel, man hours and equipments which is broken down between strictly military programs and civil military duel purpose program, into the military development of the ballistic missile industries. Many young bright promising student from the various engineering universities such as the Kim Chaek University of Technology as well as the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology were sent to the various research institutes. The Second Academy of Natural Sciences, in charge of the DPRK weapons research and development, header today by Choe Chun-Sik utilized many of these graduates in missile development. It is suggested that today on the order of 3,000 missile engineers work in the DPRK. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

The Machine-building Industry minister is headed by Po Pyong Ju reports to the National Defense Commission headed by Kim Jong-Un via Jon Pyong Ho Secretary of Military Industry. All are employed under the same employer roof that the authoritarian DPRK government and its State Organs – (NDC) National Defense Council – Defense Commission-Ministry of the Peoples Armed Forces–Ministries-Machine building industry, DPRK National Space Agency (DPRKNSA/DPRKSSDB). This major organization is the leading “DPRK Committee of Space Technology” which is probably the State Committee that is responsible for the State long-term plan for space and ballistic missile development that must include much of the ballistic missile military leadership and associated industry leaders responsible to the controlling DPRK leadership centered on Kim Jong-Un absolute authority through the National Defense Commission. This in turn is linked to the 2 nd Economic Committee which in turn is linked to the 4 the General Bureau and its Number 2 Research Center and the DPRK Peoples Army Artillery Guidance Bureau and all the associated design bureau and testing organizations under their control spread over twenty or more industry infrastructure site. All of this is related to the Ministry of Korean People’s Armed Forces headed by Kim Yong-chun. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Disappeared but not punitive purged of the DPRK Space Agency/DPRK State Space Development Bureau side of the house is Ryu Kum-Chol Deputy Director DPRK Space Technology Committee and Director of the Sohae Satellite Launching Center Jang Myong-Jim for the April 2012 failed launch attempt, a public embarrassment for the regime.

Support Services Industries

Other related support services to these primary industries entities come under the State Academy of Sciences headed by Jang Chol, General Federation of Science and Technology headed by Chairman Ri Jo-Bang, Post & Telecommunications headed by Ryu Yong Sop, Electric Industry headed by O Su Yong, Ministry of Chemical Industry headed by Vice Prime Minister Ri Mu-Yong, Metals Industry headed by Kim Thae Bong, Labor ministry headed by Jong Yong Su, State planning Commission headed by Kim Kwang Rin and especially Construction and Building Materials Industries headed by Tong Jong Ho. Beyond that the Changkwang Trading Company, Korea Mining and Development Corp.(Komid), Mokong Trading Corp. and Sino-Ki for missile technology proliferation trade operations a major source of hard currency for the DPRK. (1, 2, 3) This is over and above the issues of the full circle technology transfer going on between Iran and the DPRK. This can be no better emphasized than by the quote from the Iranian News Agency (IRNA, 2-25-2009), of the statement by Choe Tae-bok the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly Chairman as he stated “We consider all Iranian technological achievements as our own achievements.”

The DPRK National Space Agency (DPRKNSA) State Commission with members of the National Defense Commission including Jon Pyong Ho, on Kim’s right Ju Kyu Chang, on Kim’s left, Ju Pyong Ju and other space industry leaders and military support personnel all headed under the late Kim Jung Il, now under the leadership of Kim Jung-Un leadership.

During the 7th session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) April 1, 2013, eight agenda, which were decided in the PCC plenary session were discussed for implementation. The following three measures were decided with regards to North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments: Adoption of a ordinance ‘on consolidating North Korea’s nuclear power status for self-defense’; Adoption of a law on space development; Decision to establish the National Space Development Bureau.

The fact that the SPA established the National Space Development Bureau for the purpose of “the Republic to collectively lead and manage all space activities,” it can be interpreted that North Korea will implement its “Byungjin” policy while collectively managing the peaceful and military uses of space.


1. http://www.fas.org/irp/dni/osc/dprk-leaders.pdf Open Source Center: DPRK Leadership Charts

2. http://www.fas.org/irp/dni/osc/dprk-power.pdf Open Source Center: DPRK Divisions of Government Charts

3. - 18. By Sam Kim, N. Korea expected to be fully ready for rocket launch ahead of election:source, Yonhap News Agency, Feb. 24, 2009, p.1, and By Kim Hyun, N. Korea says it is preparing to launch “satellite”, Yonhap News Agency, Feb. 24, 2009 p. 1-2, along with N. Korea Insists It Will Launch “Satellite”, The Chosun Ilbo, Feb 25, 2009, p.1, and Edited by Dean Yates, TEXT-North Korea says preparing satellite launch, Reuters, Feb. 23, 2009, p. 1.

4. Available government structure data charts primarly based on the public sources

5. N. Korea's Mighty Arms Industry Dates Back 40 Years, The Chosun llbo, December 14, 2012, pp. 1-2

6. N. Koream Mystery Official "a Rocket Scientist", The Chosun Ilbo, December 190, 2012 p. 1

7. DPRK SPA Decides to Set Up State Space Development Bureau, KCNA, Pyongyang, April 1, 2013 NA

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Page last modified: 06-05-2016 19:59:02 ZULU