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Digital Archive International History Declassified


Kang Seok-ju

James E. Hoare

Kang, once a North Korean first vice minister of foreign affairs, was a leading negotiator especially during the first nuclear crisis.


KANG SEOK-JU (1939-). Widely spelled as Kang Sok-ju. In September 2010, Kang Seok-ju became a vice premier and, apparently, vice president of the Supreme Court. Previously, he had been first vice minister of foreign affairs since September 1998, and a leading negotiator on nuclear issues. Kang is a member of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) Central Committee and a delegate to the Supreme People’s Assembly. He was born in Pyeongwon, South Pyeongan Province, and educated at the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies, majoring in English. He is also reported to speak Chinese. His brother, Kang Seok-sung (1928-2001) was a prominent government official and director of the KWP Party History Institute. The younger Kang worked in the KWP external affairs department in the 1970s, and in 1981 was reported as the third secretary in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) delegation to the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in France. During the mid-1980s, he was back in the KWP external affairs department, moving to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as first deputy minister in 1987. He was awarded the Order of Kim Il Sung in 1992 and served on the funeral committees for Kim Il Sung in 1994 and O Jin-u in 1995. He led the delegation to the first round of DPRK talks with the United States in 1993 and continued to play a prominent role in subsequent negotiations on nuclear matters. It is thought that he was close to Kim Il Sung and to Kim Jong Il; one report says that they were cousins, but he was not a member of the Kim Jong Il funeral committee in 20Il. As a negotiator, he was known for playing a tough role, with an earthy line in comment, in contrast to his deputy, Kim Gye-gwan. There are also unconfirmed reports that he was sent for reeducation at one time because he had acted without party authority in the nuclear negotiations.

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).