North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

New KWP International Director

Kim Yong-il, the new KWP International Department Director

Kim Yong-il has been appointed to fill the vacant position of Department Director in the KWP’s International Department.  Mr. Kim’s change in position was announced in a KCNA report about an International Department reception given for the Chinese at the Koryo Hotel.  Mr. Kim is not the same man who currently serves as the DPRK Premier.  His last position was as Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, to which he was appointed in 2000.  In this position, Mr. Kim attended sessions of ASEAN and other regional economic and security meetings.

Mr. Kim was born in 1945 and studied at the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies where he took a degree in French.  Kim Yong-il began his career in the North Korean intelligence business, as an analyst in the External Affairs Department.  In the 1980’s he was a counsel at the DPRK Embassy to Libya.  In 1990 he was MOFA’s Director-General and in 1993 became Senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.  In 1996 he was appointed DPRK Ambassador to Libya and in 1997, other North African and Mediterranean nations (Algeria, Malta) were added to his portfolio.  Kim Yong-il was a protege and is a member of Kim Yong-nam’s patronage network.

Mr. Kim was recently seen ferrying Wen Jiabao around several places in Pyongyang in October 2009, and one of his key responsibilities at the International Department will be managing relations with China.  On another note, Mr. Kim has also been promoted from being a candidate, to full member of the KWP Central Committee.  The position of KWP International Department Director may have been vacant for as long as two (2) years, although it is likely incumbent and current United Front Department Director Kim Yang-gon was still taking on the director’s duties.

Thanks to Curtis for bringing this to my attention; I was on the plane from Amsterdam to Boston when this was released.

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