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Digital Archive International History Declassified

Biographies

Choe Tae-bok

James E. Hoare

Choe Tae-bok is the secretary for international relations of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHOE TAE-BOK (1930- ). In July 1998, Choe Tae-bok became president (equivalent to speaker in other parliamentary assemblies) of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) at the l0th SPA meeting. The post is essentially ceremonial one and should not be confused with the more important chairman of the presidium of the SPA, who acts as head of state for ceremonial purposes. Choe is also secretary for international relations of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party.

Choe was born in North Hamgyeong Province on 6 December 1930. He studied engineering at Kim Il Sung University, Leipzig College of Engineering (in what was then the German Democratic Republic [East Germany]), and spent some time at Moscow University. In 1961, he was appointed professor at the Chemical Engineering College at Hamheung, becoming director of the Research Institute of the Hamheung branch of the Academy of Sciences in 1965. Five years later, he moved to Pyongyang as a dean of the faculty at the Kim Chaek University of Technology, becoming the university president there in 1973. These appointments, and his own training, may indicate an involvement in the early stages of nuclear development in the DPRK. In 1980, he became chair of the Education Committee of the State Administrative Council and thus began to move away from university teaching and administration into the broader field of government. He has been a delegate to the SPA since 1982. He also began to take on roles in the KWP, also related to education and science, becoming secretary of education to the Central Committee in 1986 and director of the party’s Science Education Department in 1990. He became an alternate member of the KWP Politburo in 1990. He was a member of the funeral committee for President Kim Il Sung in 1994.

In his role as SPA president, Choe meets visiting parliamentarians and undertakes parliamentary and party-related visits abroad. He visited Great Britain in 2004 and again in 2011. While pleasant enough to talk to, he never deviates from the official line and does not seem to be in the DPRK’s political mainstream. He claims to be a great admirer of Byron’s poetry.

All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. (Historical Dictionary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, by James E. Hoare, published by RLPG Books, appears by permission of the author and publisher).