Jo Myong-rok

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Jo Myong-rok
First Vice Chairman of the National Defence Commission
In office
1998 – November 2010
ChairmanKim Jong-il
Preceded byO Jin-u
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Personal details
Born12 July 1928
Yonsa County, North Hamgyong, Japanese Korea
Died6 November 2010 (age 82)
Military service
Allegiance North Korea
Service/branchFlag of the Korean People's Army Ground Force.svg Korean People's Army
Years of service1950–2010
RankVice-Marshal rank insignia (North Korea).svg Vice marshal
Jo Myong-rok
Revised RomanizationJo Myeong-rok
McCune–ReischauerCho Myŏngrok
Jo Myong-rok, second right (October 2000)

Jo Myong-rok (12 July 1928 – 6 November 2010)[1] was a North Korean military officer who held the military rank Chasu (Vice Marshal). In 1998, he was appointed First Vice-Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea,[2] Director of the Korean People's Army General Political Bureau. Previously, he was the commander of the air defence forces.

Life and career[edit]

Jo meeting Bill Clinton at the White House, October 2000

Jo was born in Yonsa County, North Hamgyong province, on 12 July 1928 and he joined the Korean People's Army in December 1950.[3] He was a graduate of the Manchuria Aviation School and Soviet Air Academy.[3]

After serving as a pilot in the Korean War, Jo was promoted to major general in 1954 and lieutenant general in 1976. Meanwhile, he held other important posts, such as commanding officer of Pyongyang's Air Defence Command (1975–1977), and commanding officer of the KPA Air Force from 1977 to 1995. At the 6th Party Congress in 1980, Jo Myong-rok was elected both member of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (of which he had been an alternate member since 1975) and its Military Commission. In the 1990s, he saw a huge increase of his importance: in 1992 he was promoted to general; in 1994 he was part of Kim Il-sung's funeral committee; in 1995 he was promoted to Vice Marshal and director of the KPA General Political Bureau.

He made a key speech commemorating the third anniversary of Kim Il-sung's death in special ceremonies on 8 July 1997.[4] By 1998, when he was also appointed to the position of First Vice Chairman of the National Defence Commission, he was the second most powerful person in the country, ranking immediately beneath Kim Jong-il himself. In 2000, he traveled to Washington, D.C. on a goodwill mission.[5]


On 6 November 2010, Jo died of a heart attack at the age of 82,[1] one month after he was elected as member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau.[6] His funeral committee was chaired by Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un. He was lying in state in the Central Workers' Hall (home of the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea) in Pyongyang before buried in the Patriotic Martyrs' Cemetery.

Against expectations, his successor was not elected at the 4th Session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly in April 2011. There was speculation that Kim Jong-il was deliberately leaving the post vacant in order to promote his son, Kim Jong-un, when he was ready.[citation needed]

Funeral committee members[edit]

Jo's funeral committee included:[7]


  1. ^ a b 北韓將領趙明祿逝世 [North Korea General Jo Myong-rok passed away] (in Chinese). RTHK. 7 November 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Pyongyang shuffles its military, not policies". Asia Times. 5 May 2007. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Profiles of Presidium and Members of Political Bureau" Archived 26 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine., KCNA, 29 September 2010.
  4. ^ "Activities of DPRK VMAR Cho Myong Rok Assessed," Seoul Yonhap, Internet Version, 29 September 2000.
  5. ^ "Recent notable deaths".
  6. ^ 北朝鮮の軍ナンバー2が死去、国葬へ [Number 2 of North Korea Army died, national ceremony to be held.]. Yomiuri Shimbun; YOMIURI ONLINE (in Japanese). 7 November 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  7. ^ "KJI Funeral Rankings comparison" (XLSX). NK News. December 2011. Ranking, Listed JMR Funeral Not on KJI. Retrieved 7 September 2018.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Title last held by
O Chin-u
First Vice Chairman of the National Defence Commission
Title next held by
Post abolished (2012)
Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of the Korean People's Air Force
Succeeded by
Oh Gum-chol
Preceded by
O Chin-u
Director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army
Title next held by
Choe Ryong-hae