North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Cho’ng-ch’ol (Kim Jong Chol)

Kim Cho’ng- ch’ol is Kim Cho’ng-il’s oldest child with his fourth wife Ko Yo’ng-hu’i.  He was born 25 September 1981 in Pyongyang.  He grew up and attended schools in the DPRK until he moved to Switzerland to study at international schools from 1993 to 1998

Upon his return to the DRPK, Kim Cho’ng-ch’ol finished his education.  At his mother’s urging, he allegedly studied at Kim Il-so’ng Military University in the early to mid 2000s.  From 2002 to 2005 Kim Cho’ng-ch’ol may have been a candidate for hereditary succession.  He was also reportedly working at the CC KWP Propaganda and Agitation Department.

Some accounts depict Kim Cho’ng-ch’ol (and his younger brother) as a prominent member of the social life of 3rd generation elites, comprised of the offspring of a number of powerful party, military and government officials.   Kim Cho’ng-ch’ol traveled to Europe on several occasions.  He was photographed by the East Asian press attending an Eric Clapton concert in Germany in the summer of 2006.

Kim Cho’ng-ch’ol was photographed with his younger brother and sister, Kim Cho’ng-u’n and Kim Yo’-cho’ng, and other party officials during KCI’s tour of Wonsan Agricultural University in May 2009.  Cho’ng-ch’ol also appeared to attend several other KCI visits in 2010.  He did not appear in any commemorative photographs from the KWP’s two meetings in September 2010 that include other members of the Kim Family.  According to some accounts Kim Cho’ng-ch’ol has a key role in support of Cho’ng-u’n.

Kim Cho’ng-ch’ol is said to have a pleasant, outgoing personality.  According to Kenji Fujimoto, Cho’ng-ch’ol is viewed by KCI as too sensitive to become hereditary successor.


An affiliate of 38 North