North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Jon Pyong Ho (1926-2014)

Jon Pyong Ho (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Jon Pyong Ho (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Former Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Secretary and Director of the WPK Munitions Industries Department and Member of the DPRK National Defense Commission Gen. Jon Pyong Ho passed away on 7 July 2014 from a heart attack at the age of 88.  With over five decades working in the DPRK’s munitions industry, Jon was a key figure in the DPRK’s development of ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons and space programs, supervising the country’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, test launches of the Taepodong missile in 1998 and 2006 and a 2009 launch of the U’nha-2.  He was instrumental in the establishment of the Second Economy Commission [SEC], which is responsible for the production of conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction [WMDs].  He was a member of the SEC at its inception in 1971 and served as Vice Chairman and Chairman of the SEC.  Jon effectively retired from active involvement in the DPRK’s weapons industries as 2012 and had served as honorary curator of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] Museum of Weapons and Equipment.

Jon will be waked at the Sojang Club in the Pot’onggang District in Pyongyang on 9 July (Wednesday) and his funeral and burial will be held on 10 July (Thursday).

State Funeral Committee for Jon Pyong Ho (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/Rodong Sinmun).

State Funeral Committee for Jon Pyong Ho (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/Rodong Sinmun).

Jon Pyong Ho was a member of a squad of teenaged and twenty-something close protection escorts from 1945 to 1947 for the late DPRK President and founder, Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng), and his wife Kim Jong Suk (Kim Cho’ng-suk).  He knew the late leader Kim Jong Il (1941-2011) and his sister Kim Kyong Hui (Kim Kyo’ng-hu’i) when they were small children.  His official career began at the Kanggye General Tractor Plant, a leading DPRK arms manufacturer in Chagang Province, during the Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War).  During the 1950s and 1960s Jon Pyong Ho held a series of industrial and political management positions at munitions factories under the DPRK Cabinet.  He also held concurrent positions in the WPK Organization Guidance Department where he worked to consolidate Kim Il Sung’s command and control over munitions production.

Until the early 1970s the research, development and production of convention and advanced weapons in the DPRK was dispersed among a series of Cabinet, KPA and WPK factories and research institutes.  Holding the position of deputy (vice) director of the WPK Machine-Building Industry Department and alternate (candidate) membership on the WPK Political Bureau, Jon was instrumental in consolidating these production and research sites under one central authority, the WPK Second Economy Commission (WPK Second Economic Committee).  Jon became a member of Second Economy Commission and served as its Director-General throughout the 1970s.  He was elected a full member of the WPK Central Committee at the 6th Party Congress in October 1980.  In 1982 he was appointed Chairman of the Second Economy Commission and deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] .  Throughout the 1980s Jon supervised the DPRK’s acquisition of numerous weapons systems, as well as sales to foreign countries.  He was elected WPK Secretary for Munitions Industries and Director of the WPK Munitions Industries Department (Machine-Building Industry) in 1986.  In 1988, he was elected a full member of the WPK Political Bureau.

Jon Pyong Ho's death announcement as published in the 9 July 2014 edition of Rodong Sinmun.

Jon Pyong Ho’s death announcement as published in the 9 July 2014 edition of Rodong Sinmun.

In 1990, Jon Pyong Ho was elected a member of the DPRK National Defense Commission and appointed Director of the WPK Military Policy Inspection Department.  In 1994, as the DPRK prioritized military spending and arms production over the development of the civilian economy, Jon was appointed Director of the WPK Economic Policy Inspection Department.  He was a member of the funeral committee for DPRK President Kim Il Sung in July 1994.  In 1998 he was elected a member of the Party Central Military Commission [CMC].  Jon was also a member of the Three Person Committee, a group of key policymakers involved in macroeconomic planning focused on allocating resources for arms production.  During the 1990s Jon led negotiations and arrangements for the DPRK’s acquisition of centrifuge and enrichment technology and expertise from Pakistan.

In 2010, Jon vacated his positions at the top of the DPRK’s military industrial complex.  At the 3rd Party Conference on 28 September 2010 Jon retained his membership on the WPK Political Bureau, however he was replaced as WPK Secretary, WPK Central Committee Department Director and CMC Member.  In 2010 he assumed the position of Political Director of the DPRK Cabinet and Chief Secretary of the DPRK Cabinet WPK Committee.  In 2011 he was replaced by Pak To Chun as a member of the NDC.  Jon Pyong Ho continued to make occasional public appearances and was a member of the funeral committee organized for Kim Jong Il in December 2011.  In 2012 Jon Pyong Ho retired all of his political positions and was appointed honorary curator of the KPA Museum of Weapons and Equipment.

Jon Pyong Ho was born into a hard scrabble life to an itinerant farming family in Chagang Province in 1926.  He was a diligent student and studied in the DPRK Russia. He completed graduate coursework in mechanical engineering.  Jon was a savvy operator and manager in the DPRK’s political culture and a talented writer.  He was a consensus-builder among his colleagues in the DPRK’s military industrial complex, had a calm demeanor and was reportedly pleasant in both social and professional interactions.  Several of Jon’s children and in-laws work in the party and government.

KCNA’s obituary of Jon Pyong Ho

 

Pyongyang, July 9 (KCNA) — General of the Korean People’s Army Jon Pyong Ho, honorary curator of the KPA Museum of Weapons and Equipment, died of acute myocardial infraction at 19:00 on July 7, Juche 103 (2014) at the age of 88.

Jon was a veteran revolutionary who devoted his all to the victory of the revolutionary cause of Chuch’e true to the So’ngun (Military-First) leadership of the party and the leader.

Born into a poor peasant’s family in Jonchon County of Jagang Province on March 20, 1926, he grew up to be an able official under the loving care of the party and the leader after the liberation of the country and devoted all his life to the defence industry.

From October 1945 he served in the guards company under the loving care of President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and anti-Japanese war hero Kim Jong Suk (Kim Cho’ng-suk). He bravely fought to protect the headquarters of the revolution at the cost of his life from the desperate moves of the enemies inside and outside the country.

Working as a process engineer, department chief and chief engineer of a munitions factory from September 1952 to July 1970, he made a positive contribution to ensuring the munitions production in the wartime and hastening the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War.

He devotedly worked to defend the sovereignty of the country and the gains of the revolution by thoroughly implementing the line of simultaneously developing the economic construction and defense capabilities laid down by the President.

Holding the posts of vice department director, department director and secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea from August 1970 and director of the Political Bureau of the Cabinet and chief secretary of its Party Committee from June 2010 to March 2012, he made a special contribution to turning the KPA into the powerful elite revolutionary army equipped with modern offensive and defensive means and converting the DPRK into a satellite producer and launcher and a nuclear weapons state and devoted himself to carrying out the WPK’s line and policy of economic construction.

Working as honorary curator of the KPA Museum of Weapons and Equipment from May 2012, he devoted all his wisdom and enthusiasm to the work for conveying the undying revolutionary exploits the peerless great persons of Mt. Paektu performed in the field of defence industry to the posterity.

He worked as alternate member, member of the C.C., the WPK and as alternate member and member of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK from November 1970 to April 2012.

He was elected a deputy to the 7th Supreme People’s Assembly and worked as a deputy until the 12th SPA. He worked as a member of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK for a long period.

He was awarded high state orders and citations including two Orders of Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and Order of Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il), the highest orders of the DPRK, the title of Twice Hero of the DPRK and the title of Labor Hero for the distinguished feats he performed for the party and revolution, the country and its people.

An obituary of Jon Pyong Ho was released in the joint name of the Central Committee of the WPK and the National Defence Commission of the DPRK on July 7.

It said that though Jon passed away, the exploits he performed on behalf of the party and revolution and the country and its people will shine long.

The Central Committee of the WPK and the NDC of the DPRK announced that the late Jon would be accorded a state funeral, and formed a funeral committee with supreme leader Kim Jong Un as its chairman and 88 officials including Kim Yong Nam, Pak Pong Ju and Hwang Pyong So as its members.

 

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