updated 9 April 2011
Cho’n Pyo’ng-ho is Chief Secretary of the KWP Committee of the DPRK Cabinet and director of the DPRK Cabinet Political Bureau. From 1990 to 2011 Cho’n was a member of the National Defense Commission [NDC], and from 1986 to 2010 served as the CC KWP Secretary of Military [Munitions] Industry. Cho’n served as a key manager in the DPRK’s military industry for over four decades and was instrumental in its development of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons.
Cho’n Pyo’ng-ho was born to an itinerant farming family in Chagang Province in March 1926. Cho’n studied mechanical engineering in the DPRK and in Russia. In 1951 he worked as a manager of the Kanggye Tractor Factory. From 1956 to 1970 Jon was a guidance officer in the Party’s Organization Department (later Organization Guidance). He worked under Kim Yo’ng-chu in establishing Kim Il-so’ng’s monolithic leadership in the 1960s, which included the purges of the “military adventurists” and Kapsan factions.
He was elected an alternate (candidate) member of the Party Central Committee [CC KWP] at the 5th Party Congress in 1970, and appointed deputy director of the CC KWP Machine Industry Bureau. Around 1971 the CC KWP Machine Industry Bureau was consolidated with other military economic production sites under the party, government and military and became the Second Economy Commission [a.k.a. the Second Economic Committee], subordinate to the party. In 1972 Cho’n Pyo’ng-ho became director of the Second Economy Commission’s General Bureau, as well as chief secretary of its primary party committee. He also served as the SEC’s Vice Chairman and 1st Chairman in the 1970s and 80s.
Cho’n was promoted to full membership [regular] on the CC KWP at the 6th Party Congress in October 1980. He was elected a deputy [delegate] to the 7th Supreme People’s Assembly in 1982, as well as a candidate [alternate] member of the Political Bureau [Politburo]. Cho’n served as the Second Economy Commission’s Chairman at several intervals in the 1980s. He was elected CC KWP Secretary of Munitions Industry at the 12th plenum of the 6th CC KWP on 27 December 1986. He was elected to full membership the Political Bureau at the 14th Plenum held between 28 and 30 November, 1988. At the 9th SPA in May 1990 he was elected a member of the National Defense Commission.
In 2010 Cho’n Pyo’ng-ho was appointed director of the DPRK Cabinet’s Political Bureau, as well as chief secretary of the cabinet’s party committee. He was re-elected a member of the CC KWP Political Bureau at the 3rd Party Conference on 28 September 2010. Cho’n retired as a member of the NDC in April 2010.
Despite beginning his career as a political official, Cho’n studied engineering. Early in his career at the former Machine Industry Bureau, Cho’n studied and worked diligently to understand the development and management of a military industry. He was a central architect of the military industry’s organization and reorganization in the 1970s. He initiated the creation of party and government offices to manage foreign weapons transactions in the 1980s. Under Kim Cho’ng-il’s supervision Cho’n managed policy and planning for the country’s ballistic missile program, and was the chief operational officer behind the country’s two underground nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
According to several sources, Cho’n is a talented writer with an excellent knowledge of policy and process. Cho’n has close professional and personal ties to DPRK Premier Choe Yo’ng-rim and CC KWP Secretary Choe T’ae-pok.
Chief Secretary KWP Committee of the DPRK Cabinet
Director, CC KWP Committee of the DPRK Cabinet
Member, Party Central Committee
1951: Manager, Kanggye Tractor Factory
1957: Cadre, Party Organization
1970: Deputy Director, Machine Industry Department
Elected, Alternate Member, CCKWP
1972: Director General, General Machine Bureau, Second Economic Committee
1980: Elected Member, CCKWP
1982: Deputy, 7th SPA
Appointed Chair, Second Economic Committee, CCKWP
Awarded, Order of Kim il Sung
Alternate Member, CCKWP Political Bureau (Politburo)
1986: Deputy, 8th SPA
Appointed, Secretary of the Munitions Industry, CCKWP
1988: Appointed Member, Political Bureau (Politburo), CCKWP
1990: Deputy, 9th SPA
Director, Military Policy Inspection Department, CCKWP
1994: Director, Economic Policy Inspection Department, CCKWP
Member, Kim Il-so’ng Funeral Committee
1998: Awarded, Labor Hero
Delegate, 10th SPA (representing 254 Electoral District)
Appointed, Member, Central Military Committee
2003: Deputy, 11th SPA
2009: Deputy, 12th SPA
2010: Chief Secretary, KWP Committee of the DPRK Cabinet
Director, DPRK Cabinet Political Bureau
Elected, Member, CC KWP Political Bureau
Chong, Bong-ak . A Handbook on North Korea (Seoul: Naewoe Press, December 1996) p. 40
Gause, Ken E. Scenarios and Signposts: Managing Future North Korean Crises (Alexandria, VA: Center for Naval Analyses, June 2009)
Seoul Singdong-a January 1995 pp 210-278
Yonhap News Agency. The North Korea Handbook (Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe , 2003) pp. 796-7