North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

VMAR Jo Myong Rok (1928-2010)

updated 7 November 2010

Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok served as 1st Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission and director of the MPAF General Political Department.  He technically held the second-most powerful position in the DPRK Government which reflected three decades at the center of power in the DPRK.  Vice Marshal Jo was perhaps most notorious for leading an official DPRK delegation the United States in 2000.  VMAR Jo was elected a member of the CC KWP Political Bureau Presidium in September 2010.

Jo Myong Rok was born in 1928.  He attended the Manchuria Aviation School and Soviet Air Academy and served as a fighter pilot during the Korean (Victorious Fatherland Liberation) War.  He was promoted to Major General in 1954.  In 1975 Jo Myong Rok was assigned command of Pyongyang’s Air Defense Command.  He was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1976.  In 1977 he became commanding officer of the KPA Air Force, a position he would hold in 1995.

Jo was elected to full membership on the Party Central Committee (CC KWP) and membership on the Party Central Military Committee at the 6th Party Congress in October 1980.  He was elected a deputy to the 7th Supreme People’s Assembly in 1982.  He was promoted to General in 1992.  He was a member of Kim Il Sung’s Funeral Committee in July 1994.

In 1995 he was promoted to Vice Marshal and made director of the MPAF General Political Department.  In this position Vice Marshal Jo was the primary manager of the political education, indoctrination and surveillance of the military.  Jo was elected Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission at the 10th Supreme People’s Assembly in September 1998.

VMAR Jo attends visiting hours held during the state funeral of CC KWP Secretary Kim Jung Rin in April 2010 (Photo: KCNA)

VMAR Jo  was elected a member of the CC KWP Political Bureau on 28 September 2010.  He posed for a commemorative photograph at the Kumsusan Memorial Hall with other members of the DPRK leadership and participants in the 3rd Party Conference.  On 7 November 2010 KCNA reported that Jo Myong Rok passed away.

Jo Myong Rok

1st Vice Chairman, National Defense Commission

Member, CC KWP Political Bureau Presidium

Director, General Political Department, KPA

Member, Party Central Committee (CC KWP)

1952-1953: KPA Air Force, Fighter Pilot

1954: Promoted, Major General, KPA

1975: Commanding Officer, Pyongyang Air Defense Command

1976: Promoted, Lieutenant General, KPA

1977: Appointed, Commanding Officer, KPA Air Force

1980: Elected, Member, CC KWP

Elected, Member, Central Military Committee, CC KWP

1982: Deputy, 7th SPA

Awarded, Order of Kim il Sung

1985: Promoted, Colonel General, KPA

1986: Deputy, 8th SPA

1990: Deputy, 9th SPA

1992: Promoted, General, KPA

1994: Member, Kim il Sung Funeral Committee

1995: Promoted, Vice Marshal, KPA

Appointed, Director General, Political Bureau, KPA

1998: Deputy, 10th SPA

Elected Vice Chairman, NDC

2003: Deputy, 11th SPA

2009: Deputy, 12th SPA

2010: Elected, Member, CC KWP Political Bureau Presidium

See also:

Chong, Bong-uk (editor).  A Handbook on North Korea (Seoul: Naewoe Press, November 1998) p. 75

“Narrative Biographies of DPRK Figures” Seoul Singdong-a (Seoul: January 1995) pp. 210-278

“N. Korean military leader Jo Myong-rok dies of heart disease,” Yonhap News Agency, November 7, 2010

Yonhap News Agency.  North Korea Handbook (Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2003) pp. 655; 809-10

An affiliate of 38 North