North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Myong Gil (Kim Myo’ng-kil)

updated and revised 9 July 2019

Kim Myong Gil is the DPRK’s new special envoy to US-DPRK working level talks and the current counterpart to the US Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun. From 2015 to 2019, Kim served as the DPRK Ambassador to Vietnam.  He was worked a foreign service professional for almost 40 years and has been involved in US-DPRK relations for the last 20 years including as a participant in the Agreed Framework negotiations in the 1990s and the Six Party Talks in the mid-2000s. 


Career Highlights 

Kim Myong Gil was born March 14, 1959 in Manpo, Chagang Province. He attended Kim Il Sung University and graduated around 1981.  

Kim’s career began in 1982 when he was assigned as an entry-level staff member at the Foreign Ministry. In 1985, he was appointed as a foreign service staff member to the DPRK Embassy in Jamaica. In 1990, he was called back to the DPRK and became a staff member in the Foreign Ministry’s American Affairs Bureau. In that position he participated in Agreed Framework interactions during the early to mid1990s. 

In 1996, Kim was elevated to the position of adviser to the DPRK’s UN Mission in New York. He served as the DPRK’s representative at US-DPRK missile negotiations in Kuala Lumpur in July 2000. He was a delegation member when the late Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok visited Washington in October 2000. In 2001, he was working as a researcher at the American Affairs Bureau. In 2002, Kim participated in interactions with former US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly. That same year was working as a deputy director-general in the American Affairs Bureau. 

In October 2006, Kim Myong Gil was appointed as a representative to the UN Mission in New York. In that position he attended the second session of the 5th round of the Six Party Talks in Beijing in December 2006 and, as the head DPRK representative, a working group meeting focused on energy and economics in 2007. He was replaced three years later, November 2009, by Han Song Ryol.  

Kim attended the ASEAN Regional Forum in July 2012. From around 2010 to 2015, he served in an undisclosed senior position (equivalent to director-general) in the Foreign Ministry. In August 2015, he was appointed DPRK Ambassador to Vietnam. He was recalled to the DPRK in 2019, not long after Kim Jong Un’s visit to Vietnam for the US-DPRK Hanoi Summit and appointed as the special envoy to US-DPRK working level talks in early July 2019. He was apparently specifically requested months ago by Ri Yong Ho and Choe Son Hui to join the Foreign Ministry team and bring real expertise and experience to the negotiations in place of Kim Hyok Chol.  

Kim is a veteran of US-DPRK talks during the most constructive years, beginning with 1994 Agreed Framework negotiations. He was stationed at the UN Mission in New York when that was an active, front line assignment. He saw things fall apart as well. He was at the table for the disastrous talks with Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly in Pyongyang in October 2002. 

An affiliate of 38 North