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Jo Myeong-rokJames E. Hoare
Jo visited the United States as a special envoy from Kim Jong Il, the highest ranking DPRK officer ever to do so, meeting US President Bill Clinton.
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JO MYEONG-ROK (1928-2010). Jo was a vice marshal in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) armed forces from 1995 and the first vice chairman of the National Defense Commission from 1978. He was born on 12 July 1928 (although dates given for his birth have varied between 1928 and 1936) in Yonsa county, North Hamgyeong Province (other accounts say that he was born in what is now the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China). He studied at the Mangyeongdae Revolutionary School and later at the Soviet Air Force Academy. In December 1950, he began flying with the DPRK air force. In 1974, he became a member of the central committee of the Korean Workers’ Party and an air force commander in 1978. He became a delegate of the Supreme People’s Assembly in 1986.
Jo was always regarded as a close supporter of Kim Jong Il. In October 2000, he visited the United States as a special envoy from Kim Jong Il, the highest ranking DPRK officer ever to do so. On that occasion, he was able to present personally a letter from Kim Jong Il to President Bill Clinton. Jo’s visit led to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s visit to the DPRK later in October. Although Jo suffered from illness and had treatment abroad, he was still active until his death in November 2010. He received the Order of Kim Il Sung in April 1982.
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