Kang Sok-ju

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Kang Sok-ju
Kang Sok-ju.jpg
Vice Premier of North Korea
In office
September 2010 – May 2016
Leader Kim Jong-il (2010-2011)
Kim Jong-un (2011-2016)
Personal details
Born (1939-08-29)August 29, 1939
Pyongwon, South Pyongan
Died May 20, 2016(2016-05-20) (aged 76)
Pyongyang
Political party Workers' Party of Korea
Alma mater University of International Affairs
Profession diplomat

Kang Sok-ju (Korean: 강석주;[1] Korean pronunciation: [kaŋ.sʌk̚.t͈su]; August 29, 1939 – May 20, 2016[2]) was a North Korean diplomat and politician.

Having obtained a Bachelor's degree in French from the University of International Affairs in Pyongyang, Kang began a diplomatic career. His first significant position was as the Korean Workers' Party's deputy director for international affairs, and then director. In 1980, he was appointed section leader of his bureau. In 1984, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 1986 he became First Vice Foreign Minister, a position which he held until 2010.[3]

In the 1990s, he was prominently involved in diplomatic talks with the United States over the issue of his country's nuclear programme. He was subsequently in charge of supervising North Korea's relations with the United States, which became his area of expertise.[4] Reuters states that Kang "engineered the development of the North's nuclear programme that [...] has been the key source of regional security tensions".[5]

KBS describes him as being "among a handful of well-known North Korean officials", who has "gained global attention", and adds: "Considered too aggressive at times, Kang sometimes caused problems with his pushy demeanor. In the early 1990s, he made several crucial decisions without consulting the party and was sent to a concentration camp for training in revolutionary discipline".[6]

In September 2010, he was promoted to the position of Deputy Premier of the North Korean Government, under Premier Choe Yong-rim.[7] His specific assignment was to oversee foreign policy.[8] Kim Kye-gwan replaced him as First Vice Foreign Minister.[9]

The BBC described him as "a confidant of leader Kim Jong-il".[10] Kang died on May 20, 2016 from esophageal cancer.[11]

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Political offices
Preceded by
Paek Nam-sun
Acting
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs
2007
Succeeded by
Pak Ui-chun