Kim Jong-gak (30 July 1941) (Hangul: 김정각; Hanja: 金正閣) is a member of the North Korea military. He is currently member of the Politburo of the Workers' Party of Korea. He served as Minister of Defence briefly in 2012.
Kim Jong-gak was born in Jungsan County, South Phyongan Province on 30 July 1941, and joined the Korean People's Army in August 1959. He graduated from the Kim Il-sung Military University and later served in a number of capacities such as battalion commander, deputy commander of an army corps, chief of staff and head of a training center. He joined the Party leadership in December 1991, when he was appointed an alternate member of the WPK Central Committee at the 19th Plenary Meeting of the 6th Central Committee. In 1992 his duties grew again: in April, during Kim Il-sung's 80th birthday, he was promoted to colonel-general, and in December he was appointed vice-minister of the People's Armed Forces.
Since then, Kim Jong-gak acquired more and more importance. He was appointed administrator of the KPA's parades and performances in Pyongyang, elected deputy to the Supreme People's Assembly starting from 1998, and promoted to general in April 2002. He was also put in charge of representing the KPA during receptions for foreign military attaches.
Starting from the second half of the 2000s, Kim Jong-gak gained a more visible role. In October 2006, he gave the keynote speech to a Pyongyang rally supporting the 9 October nuclear testing. In 2007, he was appointed first vice-director of the KPA General Political Bureau; starting from that year, he frequently accompanied Kim Jong-il in his inspection tours. In August 2008, he gave the keynote speech during a meeting celebrating the anniversary of "Kim Jong-il's Songun leadership".
Kim Jong-gak's leading role was finally set at the 1st Session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly in 2009, when he delivered the speech proposing Kim Jong-il's reelection as Chairman of the National Defence Commission, and was elected himself to the National Defence Commission, the membership of which was expanded at that very meeting. In September 2010, at the 3rd Party Conference, he was promoted to Politburo alternate member and Central Military Commission member.
General Kim Jong-gak was seen as one of the next generations of KPA leaders, along with Chief of General Staff Ri Yong-ho, as well as a key asset to Kim Jong-un's rise to power. He is also supposedly linked to Jang Song-thaek, Kim Jong-il's brother-in-law; notably, both of them were removed from limelight in 2003–2005, and were promoted to high positions in 2007. Kim Jong-gak's supposed part in ensuring the succession was enhanced in May 2010, when he presided over a military ceremony unveiling bronze statues of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-suk. In April 2011, the South Korean newspaper Choson Ilbo said that Kim Jong-gak was working directly under Kim Jong-un.
After Jo Myong-rok's death in November 2010 left the post of KPA General Political Bureau director vacant, Kim Jong-gak probably worked as its acting chief until Choe Ryong-hae was appointed to fill the post in April 2012.
Kim Jong-il's death and next leadership changes enforced his "rising star" position. He delivered the speech on behalf of the military at the late leader's funeral on 29 December. On 15 February 2012, he was promoted to Vice Marshal; on 19 February, he wrote an article for Rodong Sinmun swearing an oath of "unwavering faith" to Supreme Commander Kim Jong-un. On 10 April, in the wake of the controversial Kwangmyongsong-3 launch, he was appointed Minister of People's Armed Forces (defence minister), replacing Kim Yong-Chun. He was replaced by Kim Kyok-sik on 29 November 2012. Despite the latter's appointment, which was not reported by state media and confirmed only on 28 December as he was listed as defence minister at a reception for foreign military attache corps, Kim Jong-gak remained a member of the top leadership until 31 March 2013, when he was removed from the WPK Politburo and the National Defence Commission.
He currently serves as the head of the Kim Il-sung Military Academy.
- "Profiles of Presidium and Members of Political Bureau", KCNA, 29 September 2010.
- "Top 4 N.Korean Military Officials Fall Victim to Shakeup". Chosun Ilbo. 30 November 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
- "Gen. Kim Jong-gak's Rising Star", North Korea Leadership Watch, 25 December 2009.
- "Kim Jong-il's Son 'Effectively Control Security Forces'", Chosun Ilbo (English Edition), 13 April 2011.
- "North Korea appoints hardline general as armed forces minister", The Guardian, 29 November 2012.
|Minister of People's Armed Forces