North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Jon Sung Hun

updated March 7, 2018

Jon Sung Hun (Cho’n Su’ng-hun) is the former Chairman of the North Hamgyo’ng Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Provincial Committee and a former Member of the WPK Central Committee.  He is a deputy (delegate) to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly. He has previously held positions in the DPRK Cabinet.

Jon’s career began in the trading DPRK’s metal industries. His first significant position was as a principal of the state-owned enterprise Ferrous Metals Trade Company (also known as the Ferrous Metals Import-Export Company), serving as a director-general from 1993 to 1995, then as company president from 1995 to 1998. In April 1998 he was appointed Vice Minister of Metal and Machine Building Industries.  Jon was elected a deputy (delegate) to the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] and at the first session of the 10th SPA during September 1998 was promoted to Minister of Metal and Machine Building Industries.

As Minister of Metal and Machine-Building Industries, Jon led a 12-member DPRK delegation on a March 2001 visit to Italy where they toured financial and industrial institutions. The visit was part of
the country’s early 2000s economic and academic outreach efforts in western Europe following the establishment of formal diplomatic relations. In this case, the DPRK and Italy had normalized diplomatic relations in January 2000 and signed a trade agreement in September 2000.

In September 2003 during the first session of the 11th SPA Jon was appointed Vice Premier of the DPRK Cabinet. In that position Jon participated in several insepction tours and events related to domestic economic development and foreign trade including attending opening events of the DPRK-China Taean Friendship Glass Factory in Namp’o during October 2005. In June 2006, Jon led a DPRK delegation
on a goodwill visit to Cuba and met with then-Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Jon Sung Hun was one of at least a dozen senior DPRK officials who did not appear in public before or after the country’s first nuclear weapons test on October 9, 2006. Jon’s last observed appearance was a
congratulatory event on Youth Day in August 2006 and his next observed appearance was not until December 22 the same year when he attended a central report meeting commemorating late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il’s election as Korean People’s Army [KPA] Supreme Commander. Jon presided over a meeting and DPRK Cabinet inspection tour of industrial upgrades at the Ch’o’llima Steel Complex in August 2007 where he read a congratulatory message from the WPK Central Committee.

In November 2007, Jon presided over a ceremony marking the start of operations of a construction materials factory in Pyongyang.  Following former ROK President Roh Moo-hyun’s October 2007 visit to
the DPRK, Jon led a DPRK delegation to the South in his capacity as co-chairman of the Inter-Korean Joint Economic Committee. Jon told international media “we are on the same boat to activate inter-Korean economic projects. Let’s move forward by pooling our wisdom and strength.” During two days of meetings the two Koreas discussed upgrading railways, roads, and other infrastructure as well as fishing
in the West (Yellow) Sea with Jon and the delegation returnng to the DPRK on December 6.

Jon Sung Hun wrote a celebratory op-ed for Rodong Sinmun after the launch of the Kwangmyo’ngso’ng-2 in April 2009, but was removed from office as DPRK Vice Premier during the 1st session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly. He was replaced by O Su Yong. Jon remained out of
favor for two years. He was rehabilitated and appointed to his old position of Minister of Metal Industry in November 2011.

In August 2012, Jon Sung Hun was re-appointed DPRK Vice Premier by a special degree promulgated by the Supreme People’s Assembly. He served concurrently as Vice Premier and Minister of Metal Industry
until his replacement was appointed in November 2012. As DPRK Vice Premier was active at Cabinet Plenary Meetings and was a regular contributor to Minju Joson. In a December 2012 contribution to Minju Joson he wrote:

We will strengthen the cabinet system and cabinet-centered system; adhere to socialist principles in economic work; and put strength into increasing production to the maximum by increasing the responsibility and role of the working people, who are in charge of production and construction.

Our cabinet functionaries will design and operate the work with a far-sighted plan and ideology, become pioneers and forerunners in creating and accepting new things, and become doers who tenaciously
press ahead with the work, once it is begun, and see it through to the end.

We will run again and again until our feet wear out for the economic development of the country and the improvement of people’s living standards, begin the work site generously, when it is begun, and carry
out operation and command in an ambitious and militant manner.

We harden our resolve once again to actively contribute toward making my country and my fatherland wealthier and more powerful by deeply cherishing in our hearts the great honor and pride of greeting today’s great joyous event and loyally upholding the leadership of the respected and beloved Marshal Kim Jong Un.

In April 2014, Jon Sung Hun was appointed Chief Secretary of the North Hamgyo’ng WPK Provincial Committee, replacing O Su Yong who migrated to the central party. The motivation behind Jon’s appointment as North Hamgyo’ng’s regional party boss was due to his experience interacting with foreign leadership and his career spent in the metal industries. His tenure in North Hamgyo’ng was marked by industrial upgrades at the Kim Ch’aek Iron and Steel Complex and managing staggered production schedules and output at the Musan Mine and Songjin Steel Complex. In May 2016, Jon was elected a member of the WPK Central Committee.  He was removed from office as Chairman of the North Hamgyo’ng WPK Provincial Committee in 2017.

Jon Sung Hun was born in 1951.


Jon Sung Hun


Deputy, Supreme People’s Assembly

1993: Director-General, Non-ferrous Metal Trading Company

1995: President, Non-ferrous Metal Trading Company

1998: (April) Vice Minister, Metal and Machine Building Industry

(July) Elected, deputy, 10th Supreme People’s Assembly

(September) Minister of Metal and Machine Building Industry

1999: Member, Ri Jong Ok Funeral Committee

2003: (August) Elected, deputy, 11th Supreme People’s Assembly

(September) Appointed, DPRK Vice Premier

2005: Member, Yon Hyong Muk Funeral Committee

2007: Co-Chairman Inter-Korean Joint Economic Committee

2009: (March) Elected, deputy, 12th Supreme People’s Assembly

(April) Hong Song Nam Funeral Committee

2011: Appointed, Minister of Metal Industry

2012: (August) Appointed, DPRK Vice Premier

(October) Removed from concurrent position as Minister of
Metal Industry

2014: (March) Elected, deputy, 13th Supreme People’s Assembly

(April), Chief Secretary, North Hamgyo’ng WPK Provincial Committee

(July) Member, Jon Pyong Ho Funeral Committee

2015: (November) Member, Ri Ul Sol Funeral Committee

(December) Member, Kim Yang Gon Funeral Committee

2016: (May) Elected, Member, 7th WPK Central Committee

Chairman, North Hamgyo’ng WPK Provincial Committee

(May) Member, Kang Sok Ju Funeral Committee


Compiled from DPRK and ROK open sources and interview data acquired in 2013; “Ten Member Delegation to Visit Italy, Tour Firms on March 5” Yonhap News Agency, February 24, 2001; “North Korean Officials Tour Capitalist Economies for Ideas,” Yonhap News Agency, February 27, 2001; “N.Korea Replaces 12 Ministerial Officials Since Last Year,” Yonhap News Agency, April 9, 2003; “Report of the Central Election Committee on the Results of the elections of deputies for the 11th
Supreme People’s Assembly,” Korean Central Broadcasting Station (in Korean), August 5, 2003; “DPRK Government Gives Banquet (for commissioning Taean Glass Factory),” Korean Central Broadcasting
Station (in Korean), October 10, 2005; “DPRK Ministers Visit the #326 Electric Wire Factory,” Korean Central Television (in Korean), November 4, 2005; “DPRK Government Delegation Arrives in Havana,”
Korean Central Broadcasting Station (in Korean), June 24, 2006 (June 27, 2006); “North Korean Vice-premier meets Cuban leader Fidel Castro,” Yonhap, July 1, 2006; “Senior party, army officials
congratulate youths on Youth Day,” Korean Central News Agency, August 28, 2006; “Central Report Meeting Marking 15th Anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s Assumption of KPA Supreme Command,” Korean Central Television, December 22, 2006; “Central Television Morning News,” Korean Central
Television (in Korean), July 31, 2007; “Central Radio News,” Korean Central Broadcasting Station (in Korean), November 22, 2007; “Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Committee to Hold 1st Meeting,”
ITAR-TASS, December 4, 2007; “DPRK Deputy Premier Arrives in ROK for 3-Day Talks,” Yonhap, December 4, 2007; “The first meeting of the North-South Joint Committee for Economic Cooperation proceeded in Seoul from December 4 to December 6,” Korean Central Television (in Korean), December 6, 2007; “DPRK Delegation Returns from Inter-Korean Economic Meeting December 6,” Korean Central Broadcasting (in Korean), December 7, 2007; “DPRK Officials, Media Laud Successful Satellite
Launch,” Xinhua, April 7, 2009; “Pak Myo’ng-son nominated as vice premier of the Cabinet,” Korean Central Broadcasting Station (in Korean), September 5, 2009; “Jon Sung Hun Newly Appointed as DPRK Vice Premier,” Korean Central News Agency, August 18, 2012; “DPRK Appoints Han Yan-ho as New Minister of Metal Industry,” Daily NK, November 1, 2012; “How Happy Our General Must Be,” by Jon Sung Hun, Minju Joson (in Korean), December 13, 2012; “New Strides in Building a Powerful Economic State,” by Jon Sung Hun, Minju Joson (in Korean), June 6, 2013; “Faith and Will of Ten Million Soldiers and People Who Will Achieve Great Prosperity for the Great Mt. Paektu State,” by Jon Sung Hun, Minju Joson (in Korean), September 12, 2013; “Let Us Thoroughly Carry Out Our People’s Economic Plans by Boldly Staging an All-Out Charge: a Cabinet plenary session was held,” Minju Joson (in Korean), October 19, 2013; “Report of the Central Election Committee on the Election Results of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly,” Korean Central News Agency (in Korean), March 11, 2014; “State Funeral Committee for Ri Ul Sol,” Rodong Sinmun (in Korean), November 9, 2015; “State Funeral Committee for Kim Yang Gon,” Rodong Sinmun (in Korean), December 30, 2015; “Fourth and Final Day of the 7th Party Congress,” NK Leadership Watch, May 10, 2016; “WPK Central Committee
and WPK Central Auditing Commission Meet,” NK Leadership Watch, May 10, 2016; “State Funeral Committee for Kang Sok Ju,” Rodong Sinmun (in Korean), May 21, 2016

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