North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Ju Kyu Chang

(Photo: KCNA)

(Photo: KCNA)

updated February 23, 2018

Ju Kyu Chang is an alternate (candidate) member of the Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Central Committee, a deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly and is the former Director of the WPK Munitions Industry Department.  Ju served as the DPRK’s chief official of science research and development in the DPRK’s conventional and advanced weapons programs.   Ju came to the attention of Pyongyang watchers in 2000 when he was appointed Senior Deputy Director of the WPK Munitions Industry Department and began escorting Kim Jong Il on guidance tours.  From 2000 until KJI’s death in 2011 Ju was a regular member of KJI’s retinue.

A mechanical engineer by training, he began his career at the Ministry of Machine Building Industries in the 1960s, while holding a concurrent party position in the early incarnation of the party’s Military (Munitions) Industry Department. He was elected as an alternate (candidate) member of the Party Central Committee (CC KWP) at the 5th Party Congress in 1970.

Ju was a key participant, along with Jon Pyong Ho, in the consolidation of party control over the DPRK military industrial complex which occurred over several years from about the late 1960s to the early 1970s.   This led to the creation of the Second Economy Commission [SEC] (also known as the Second Economic Committee).  By 1974 he was serving as Vice Chairman of the SEC.  In the 1970s Ju Kyu Chang served successively as a director, vice president and president of the Academy of National Defense Sciences.

Ju Kyu Chang became President of the Second National Academy of Natural Sciences, which coordinates research, development and education for the DPRK’s conventional and advanced weapons programs.  In the 1980s he also held the position of Vice Minister of Machine Building Industry.  He was elected to full membership on the Party Central Committee at the 15th plenum of the 6th Central Committee (6th Term= 6th Congress) in December 1988.

Ju Kyu Chang (L) attending a guidance tour with KJI in 2010 (Photo: KCNA)

In 1998 Ju left his position as the President of the Second National Academy of Natural Sciences.  It is likely he served as Chairman of the Second Economy Commission during the late 1990s and playing a key role in the 1998 test launch of the Taepodong ICBM.  He was elected a deputy to the 10th Supreme People’s Assembly and was re-elected to the 11th SPA in 2003 and the 12th SPA in 2009.   In 2000 Ju was appointed senior deputy (first vice) director of the KWP Munitions (Military) Industry Department.  He made one of his first observed appearances with Kim Jong Il in April 2001.  After 2001 Ju Kyu Chang regularly accompanied Kim Jong Il to concerts, inspections and on-site visits until 2011.

At the 1st session of the 12th SPA in April 2009, Ju was elected a member of the DPRK National Defense Commission, the country’s supreme policymaking body and organization.  Ju was a key figure in the DPRK’s second experimental nuclear detonation in May 2009.

In attendance with Kim Jong Un were: Lt. Gen. Choe Chun Sik (1); Ju Kyu Chang (2); Jo Chun Ryong (3); Pak To Chun (4); VMar Hwang Pyong So (5); Gen. Ri Yong Gil (6); Gen. Hyon Yong Chol (7); and, Col. Gen. Yun Tong Hyon (8) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

On 28 September 2010, during the 3rd Party Conference, Ju was elected as an alternate member of the KWP Political Bureau, a member of the Party Central Military Commission and a rostrum (platform) member at the party conference.  Ju was also promoted to Director of the KWP Machine-Building Industry Department (renamed from the KWP Munitions Industry Department).

After Kim Jong Il’s death in December 2011, Ju Kyu Chang was a member of the National Funeral Committee.  In February 2012 Ju was given the rank of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Colonel-General (sangjang).  Under Kim Jong Un, Ju Kyu Chang became less prominent in DPRK public life than he had been in under KJI.  However, he retained his positions until 2014.  During the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea in May 2016, Ju was elected an alternate (candidate) member of the WPK Central Committee and entered into semi-retirement.  He still holds some influence in the DPRK’s WMD and ballistic missile program and attends various state events.

Ju Kyu Chang was born in South Hamgyo’ng Province in 1928.  He studied at DPRK universities and served in the Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War).  He has traveled outside the DPRK on numerous occasions, including attending Kim Jong Il’s 2010 and 2011 visits to China and Russia.  Ju is highly intelligent and a very warm, kind personality.


Ju Kyu Chang


Alternate Member, 7th Central Committee

Deputy, Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA]


1970: Elected, Alternate Member, 5th WPK Central Committee

1974: Appointed, Vice Chairman, Second Economic Committee, WPK

1983: Vice Minister, Machine Building Industry

1988: Elected, Member, 6th WPK Central Committee

1994: Member, Kim Il Sung Funeral Committee

1995: Member, O Jin U Funeral Committee

1998: Deputy, 10th SPA

2000: Senior Deputy Director, WPK Munitions Industry Department

2003: Deputy 11th SPA

2005: Member, Yon Hyong Muk Funeral Committee

2009: Deputy, 12th SPA

Elected, NDC Member

2010: (September) Appointed, Director, WPK Machine-Building (Munitions) Industry Department

Elected, Member, WPK Central Military Commission

Alternate Member, WPK Political Bureau

(November) Member, Jo Myong Rok Funeral Committee

2011: Member, Kim Jong Il Funeral Committee

2012: Promoted, KPA Colonel General

2013: Member, Kim Kuk Thae Funeral Committee

2014:(April) Deputy, 13th SPA

(July) Member, Jon Pyong Ho Funeral Committee

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

See also:

Bermudez, Joseph S., Jr.  The Armed Forces of North Korea (New York, NY: IB Tauris, 2001)

Gause, Ken.  Scenarios and Signposts: Managing Future North Korean Crises (Alexandria, VA: CAN, June 2009)

Yonhap News Agency.  North Korea Handbook (Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2003) pp. 179; 812

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