Yon Hyong-muk

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Yon Hyong-muk
Premier of North Korea
In office
11 December 1988 – 11 December 1992
Preceded by Ri Kun-mo
Succeeded by Kang Song-san
Personal details
Born 3 November 1931
Died 23 October 2005(2005-10-23) (aged 73)
Yon Hyong-muk
Revised Romanization Yeon Hyeongmuk
McCune–Reischauer Yŏn Hyŏngmuk

Yon Hyong-muk, also spelt Yong Hyong-muk (November 3, 1931 – October 23, 2005), was a long-serving politician in North Korea and at the height of his career the most powerful person in that country outside the Kim family. He was Prime Minister of North Korea from 1988 to 1992.[1]

He was born in Kyongwon County and had a strong revolutionary background in his family. He was educated locally and employed as a farm worker.[1] Yon was educated in Czechoslovakia and by the 1950s, he was firmly established within the hierarchy of the Workers' Party of Korea. In 1967 he was selected as a deputy to the Supreme People's Assembly.[1]

During the 1970s, Yon further advanced in the Party and by the middle 1980s he was regarded as the fourth most powerful person in North Korea after Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and veteran marshal and defence minister O Chin-u. He was a candidate member of the Politburo from the early 1980s and became Prime Minister of North Korea in 1989. During this era, Yon served as Minister of Heavy Industry and this consolidated his role in the North's large armaments sector.

In this period, as Kim Il-sung and O Chin-u were both already past eighty, Yon took an important role in relations between North and South Korea. He worked hard in this field as Prime Minister and was regarded as the chief negotiator behind the Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression and Exchanges and Cooperation between the South and the North (also known as the "South-North Basic Agreement") of 1991.[2][3] At the time he called it "the most valuable achievement ever made between the South and North Korean authorities."[2] For the rest of the 1990s, Yon was the chief figure behind efforts to reconcile the two Koreas. However, by the 2000s, Yon was declining in health and his role in North Korean politics had become largely ceremonial by the time he died - presumably of pancreatic cancer for which he had received treatment in Russia in 2004 at the well protected Central Clinical Hospital. He died in 2005.


  1. ^ a b c Lentz, Harris M. (2014-02-04). Heads of States and Governments Since 1945. Routledge. p. 481. ISBN 9781134264902. 
  2. ^ a b Jonsson, Gabriel (2006-01-01). Towards Korean Reconciliation: Socio-cultural Exchanges and Cooperation. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 57. ISBN 9780754648642. 
  3. ^ "Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression and Exchanges and Cooperation between the South and the North" (PDF). 25 March 1992. Retrieved 30 April 2017.