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Digital Archive International History Declassified


Kang Seong-san

James E. Hoare

Kang is a technocrat and has been premier twice.


KANG SEONG-SAN (1931- ). Kang is a technocrat and has been premier twice. He was born in North Hamgyeong Province in 193l and educated at the Mangyeongdae Revolutionary School and in Prague, now in the Czech Republic, where he studied engineering. He first emerged as a Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) official in Nampo, the port city for the capital Pyongyang, in August 1969, but by November of that year, he was chief secretary of the Pyongyang Municipal Committee of the K WP. He was a delegate and a member of the presidium of the Fifth Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) in 1972. In October 1973, he became an alternate member of the KWP Politburo. After a brief period as chair of the Transport and Postal Committee, he became a deputy prime minister and minister of railways in September 1979. From January 1984 to December 1986, he was premier. After his replacement, for which no reason was given, he reemerged two years later as head of the local government in North Hamgyeong Province. In 1992, he returned to Pyongyang as premier once again, which some saw as a sign of a more technocratic approach to the economy. However, he ceased to appear in public at the beginning of 1997 and was replaced by Hong Seong-nam, first as acting premier and then substantively from September 1998. Kang was also not elected as a delegate to the l0th SPA in February 1997. There were some reports that illness was the reason for his dismissal, but there were also rumors of political difficulties after a defector claimed in 1994 that he was Kang’s son-in-law. The gap between this incident and his loss of position makes this unlikely.

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).