Yon Hyong-muk

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Yon Hyong-muk
Chosŏn'gŭl 연형묵
Hancha 延亨默
Revised Romanization Yeon Hyeongmuk
McCune–Reischauer Yŏn Hyŏngmuk
This is a Korean name; the family name is Yon.

Yon Hyong-muk, also spelt as Yong Hyong-muk (November 3, 1931 – October 23, 2005) was a longserving politician in North Korea and at the height of his career the most powerful person in that country outside the Kim family. He was premier of North Korea from 1989 to 1992.

He was born in Kyongwon County and had a strong revolutionary background in his family. Although details about his early childhood are not well known, it is known than Yon was educated in Czechoslovakia and by the 1950s, he was firmly established within the hierarchy of the Workers' Party of Korea, which became the only political party in North Korea after the Korean War ended. By 1968, after one of several purges to occur during Kim Il Sung's long reign, Yon was established as one of Kim's most trusted comrades and had become a secretary of the Central Committee of the Party.

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 premier of North Korea in 1989 . During this era, Yon served as Minister of Heavy Industry and this cemented his major 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 quite hard in this field as premier and was regarded as the chief negotiator behind the Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression, Exchanges, and Cooperation (a.k.a. the "South-North Basic Agreement") of 1991. 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 prestigious hospital, the well protected VIP Central Clinical Hospital. In 2005, he died.