North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Gen. Kim Myong Guk (deceased)

Gen. Kim Myong-kuk (Photo: Northeast Asia Matters/KCNA)

updated February 25, 2018

General Kim Myong-kuk is the former director of the GSD’s Operations Bureau (or Korean People’s Army [MPAF] General Staff Department Operations Department).  General Kim was responsible for the daily operational management of the KPA’s corps command in coordination with the KPA Supreme Command.  He was also a member of the Party Central Military Commission[CMC] and the Party Central Committee[CC KWP].  General Kim was Kim Jong Il’s cousin and a close military advisor and social cohort.

Kim Myong-kuk was born in 1940.  He attended the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School, Kim Il Sung University and Frunze Military Academy in Russia.  He began his career as a military planner at MPAF.  In the 1970s he was a lecturer and administrator on strategy and tactics at DPRK military schools and training facilities.  Kim was appointed director of the General Staff Department Training Bureau in 1984, while serving concurrent positions as a planner at MPAF and military tutor to Kim Chong-il.

Kim Myong Guk was elected to candidate membership on the Party Central Committee at its 16th plenum (6th Term/6th CC) in June 1989.  He was elected a deputy to the 9th SPA in 1990.  He was elected to full membership on the Party Central Committee at its 19th plenum (6th Term/6th CC) on 24 December 1991.  In 1994 Kim was promoted to General in April 1994, and later the same year was a member of Kim Il Sung’s Funeral Committee.  From 1994 to 1996 he served his first term as director of the GSD Operations Bureau.

In February 1995 Kim Myong Guk was a member of O Chin-u’s Funeral Committee, and took a position on the party’s Central Military Committee (Central Military Commission).  In 1996 he was assigned command of the 108th Mechanized Corps.  General Kim returned as director of the GSD Operations Bureau around 2007.

In that position Gen. Kim managed operational planning and communications between the KPA Supreme Commander to corps commanders and service branch units.  He also supervises training and planning activities of the Pyongyang Defense Command and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces.

Kim Jong Il has utilized the GSD Operation Bureau through invoking “single guidance” where he interfaces directly with unit commanders.  In 2009 and 2010 Gen. Kim managed the planning for several military exercises attended by Kim Chong-il and other central leadership.

In January 2010, ROK media observed that Gen. Kim had lost one star and reduced in rank to Colonel General, when he was photographed attending joint war exercises with KJI.  In April 2010, Gen. Kim’s 4th star was restored when he was photographed briefing Kim Jong Il at a joint training exercise.

Gen. Kim was re-elected to the Party Central Military Commission on 28 September 2010, one of three holdovers on the CMC.  In 2012 Gen. Kim was removed from office as Chief of KPA General Staff Operations Bureau.  He remains part of the leadership, and has migrated into working in internal security

Kim Myong Guk was a close military aide to KJI who called KMK “my Operations Bureau director.”  Gen. Kim also has close personal ties to KCI, and has attended his hunting excursions in North Pyongan Province.

Gen. Kim passed away in 2016.

Gen. Kim Myong-guk


1970’s: Senior Lecturer, Strategy and Tactical Faculty, Kim Il-sung University

Chief of Staff, 25 April Training Facility

1982: Promoted, Lieutenant General, KPA

1984: Director of the Training Department of the GSD Operations Bureau

1989: Elected, Candidate Member, CC KWP

1990:  Deputy, 9th SPA

1991:  Elected, Member, CC KWP

1994: Promoted, Colonel-General, KPA

Member, Kim Il-sung Funeral Committee

Deputy Chief and Director, General Staff Department Operations Bureau

1995: Member, O Jin-u Funeral Committee

Promoted, General, KPA

Elected, Member, Central Military Commission

1996: Assigned command, 108th Mechanized Corps

1998: Deputy10th SPA

2003: Deputy, 11th, SPA

2007: Director, Operations Bureau, GSD Operations Bureau

2009: Deputy, 12th SPA

2012: Removed as Chief of the KPA General Staff Operations Bureau

See also:

Bermudez, Joseph S.  The Armed Forces of North Korea (London: IB Tauris, 2001)

Gause, Ken.  North Korean Civil-Military Trends: Military-first Politics to a Point.  (Carlisle, PA: USAWC Strategic Studies Institute, September 2006) p. 32-3

Northeast Asia Matters.  “Photos Indicate Demotion of North General?” January 2010 (

Yonhap News Agency. The North Korea Handbook (Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2003) pp.  658; 848

An affiliate of 38 North