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Digital Archive International History Declassified


Heo Dam

James E. Hoare

Heo Dam (also Ho Dam) was for many years the diplomatic face of the DPRK and the first DPRK minister to visit the United States.


HEO DAM (1929-1991). Heo Dam (also Ho Dam) was for many years the diplomatic face of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). He was also related by marriage to the DPRK leader Kim Il Sung. Heo was educated at Moscow University from 1949 to 1954 and joined the Organization and Guidance Department of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) on his return to the DPRK. He later served as a section chief of the KWP’s International Department. In 1962, he became deputy foreign minister in 1970 foreign minister. In 1977, he added the post of deputy prime minister to that of foreign minister and held these two posts until December 1983. During this period, he became the first DPRK minister to visit the United States when President Jimmy Carter’s administration granted him a visa to attend the Non-Aligned Movement conference in New York in 1977. Heo also progressed in the KWP, becoming an alternate member of the Politburo in 1977 and a full member in 1983. On leaving the Foreign Ministry, Heo became head of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, a KWP united front body that handled relations with the Republic of Korea (ROK). In this capacity, he met ROK visitors such as Jeong Ju-yeong, the head of Hyundai, and the dissident Rev. Moon Ik-hwan. Heo’s other posts included secretary of the KWP International Committee and Chair of the Supreme People’s Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee; he was first elected to the assembly in 1972. He died in May 1991.

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).