Kim Yong-nam

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Kim Yong-nam
Kim Yong-nam in Moscow.jpg
President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea
Assumed office
5 September 1998
Premier Hong Song-nam
Pak Pong-ju
Kim Yong-il
Choe Yong-rim
Pak Pong-ju
Leader Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-un
Preceded by Yang Hyong-sop
Personal details
Born (1928-02-04) 4 February 1928 (age 89)
Heijo, Japanese Korea
(now Pyongyang, North Korea)
Political party Workers' Party of Korea
Kim Yong-nam
Chosŏn'gŭl 김영남
Hancha 金永南
Revised Romanization Gim Yeong-nam
McCune–Reischauer Kim Yŏng-nam

Kim Yong-nam (Hangul김영남; Hanja金永南; born 4 February 1928)[1] is the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea, a position he has held since 1998.[2] Previously, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1983 to 1998.[3] He was elected a member of the Presidium of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in 2010.

Life and career[edit]

He was born in the Central District, Heijo (now called Pyongyang), on February 4, 1928. After graduating from a university, he worked as a teacher at the Central Party School, vice-department director of the WPK Central Committee, vice-minister of foreign affairs, and first vice-department director, department director and secretary of the WPK Central Committee, vice-premier of the administration council and concurrently Minister of Foreign Affairs.[4] His elevation to Minister of Foreign Affairs is believed to have occurred as part of a reorganization of the diplomatic bureaucracy after the Rangoon bombing.[5]

As chairman of the Presidium, Kim Yong-nam has been called the "nominal head of state" of North Korea.[6] The deceased founding leader, Kim Il-sung, is designated in the North Korean constitution as the country's "Eternal President". However, Kim Yong-nam accepts the credentials of ambassadors, signs treaties, receives visiting heads of state and represents North Korea on all state visits — the functions normally performed by a head of state in other countries. He has held this office since 5 September 1998.

In theory, he, Premier Pak Pong-ju, and National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-un form a tripartite executive, each having powers equal to a third of a president's in Presidential systems, controlling foreign relations, government and domestic affairs, and defense, respectively.[citation needed] The Chairman of the Presidium is sometimes considered the "number two official".[7]

Diplomatic activity[edit]

Kim embarked on a two-week tour of Mongolia, Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Singapore on 20 July 2007. On 18 March 2008, he embarked on a goodwill tour of four African states.[8] Arriving in Namibia on 20 March, he was present for the official completion of a new presidential residence that was built by North Korea.[9] He also held talks with Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and signed an agreement on public health cooperation with Pohamba.[8][9] He subsequently visited Angola, where he met President José Eduardo Dos Santos on 24 March, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he met President Joseph Kabila on 26 March, and Uganda, where he met President Yoweri Museveni on 29 March. He returned to North Korea on 1 April.[8]

Kim also attended the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony on 8 August 2008 as well as the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony on 7 February 2014. On 14 July 2009, Kim Yong-nam met Vietnamese president Nguyen Minh Triet on the sidelines of the 15th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Egypt.[10]

Kim represented North Korea at the 2015 Victory Day parade in Moscow on 9 May 2015, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.[11] He also paid an official visit to Equatorial Guinea on 19 May 2016 to attend the presidential inauguration.


The journalist and academic Don Oberdorfer, described Kim as enigmatic, rigid in his official role, personally pleasant, highly intelligent, and an important figure behind the scenes in Pyongyang.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Profile of Kim Yong-nam
  2. ^ "Blessings, condolences". The Pyongyang Times. 6 January 2007. p. 1. 
  3. ^ Dae-woong, Jin (2007-10-04). "Who's who in North Korea's power elite". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2007-10-05. 
  4. ^ "Profiles of Presidium and Members of Political Bureau" Archived 2013-09-26 at the Wayback Machine., KCNA, 29 September 2010.
  5. ^ Oberdorfer, Don; Carlin, Robert (2014). The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History. Basic Books. p. 184. ISBN 9780465031238. 
  6. ^ Oberdorfer, Don; Carlin, Robert (2014). The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History. Basic Books. p. 465. ISBN 9780465031238. 
  7. ^ "Jimmy Carter lands in North Korea to bring home jailed Boston man". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on August 28, 2010. He later sat down for talks with the No. 2 official, Kim Yong Nam, APTN said. 
  8. ^ a b c "N Korean leader returns after visiting four African countries", Yonhap (AsiaPulse via COMTEX), 2 April 2008.
  9. ^ a b "Namibia, NKorea hail friendship", Sapa (IOL), March 21, 2008.
  10. ^ Vietnam president meets DPRK leader
  11. ^ Akihiko Kaise, "Pyongyang plays up closer ties with Russia despite absence of Kim Jong Un in Moscow", The Asahi Shimbun, 11 May 2015.
  12. ^ Oberdorfer, Don; Carlin, Robert (2014). The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History. Basic Books. p. 185. ISBN 9780465031238. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Ho Dam
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Paek Nam-sun
Preceded by
Yang Hyong-sop
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea