U Tong Chuk is a Korean People’s Army [KPA] General [taejang] who serves as Senior Vice (1st Vice) Minister of State Security (also known as the State Security Department). Until April 2012, Gen. U was a member of the DPRK National Defense Commission [NDC], the government supreme leadership organization, an alternate (candidate) member of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau and a member of the Party Central Military Commission. U’s career background is in foreign intelligence collection. From 2009 until 2012 he was responsible for the daily operational management of one of the country’s key internal security agencies. Gen. U has ties to Jang Song Taek (Chang So’ng-t’aek) and Gen. O Kuk Ryol (O Kuk-yo’l), both NDC Vice Chairmen. U Tong Chuk has not been seen in public as of late March 2012.
U Tong Chuk’s official career began in the late 1960s. Like many current members of the central leadership, U’s first official position was as an instructor for the KWP Organization Guidance Department [OGD]. He was eventually promoted to section chief before Kim Jong Il assigned him to the Ministry of State Security. At MSS U held middle management positions in the surveillance and foreign affairs bureaus. He was promoted to department director and elevated to Vice Minister in the 1990s. He may have started working as one of State Security’s leading officials as early as 2007 or 2008, however according to his official biography broadcast on state media in September 2010, he was appointed senior vice minister of State Security in September 2009.
Gen. U was elected a member of the National Defense Commission, as well as promoted to Colonel General, in April 2009. He attended Kim Jong Il’s inspection of a university responsible for training MSS officials in May 2009, a rare reported public appearance to an internal security agency by the late supreme leader. According DPRK state media reporting he attended a dinner reception hosted by Kim Jong Il for former US President Bill Clinton in August 2009. U traveled to China for a week in November 2009 and was observed later that month attending a concert by personnel of the Ministry of People’s Security.
On 28 September 2010 U was a rostrum member at the 3rd Party Conference where he was elected a full (regular) member of the Party Central Committee(CC KWP), an alternate member of the Political Bureau. and member of the Party Central Military Commission. Gen. U accompanied KJI and Kim Jong Un to a concert given by the art propaganda squad of KPA Unit #10215, part of the MSS. The concert was Kim Jong Un’s first reported public appearance after events of the 3rd Party Conference. U would go on to attend a number of inspection tours and other events with Kim Jong Il. In May 2011, U Tong Chuk attended Kim Jong Il’s meeting with senior Russian intelligence officials. Based on depictions in DPRK state media, U appeared to be the responsible official in charge of that meeting. During that meeting Gen. U introduced Kim Jong Un (who was not publicly identified as having attended) to the visiting delegation.
After Kim Jong Il’s death in December 2011, Gen. U was a prominent member of the mourning parties at the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace. He was ranked #25 on the National Funeral Committee list published by DPRK state media on 19 December 2011. U was one of the eight party and security officials who ceremoniously escorted KJI’s hearse. After the events of KJI’s funeral and Kim Jong Un’s appointment as KPA Supreme Commander in late December 2011, Gen. U took a leading role in ridding the MSS and the KPA of officials that could hinder KJU’s accession. Some of these officials were subsequently incarcerated or executed.
U Tong Chuk’s last known public appearance occurred at a memorial ceremony for Kim Jong Il in late March 2012. At the 4th Party Conference and 5th session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly in April 2012, Gen. U was not listed as a member of the KWP Political Bureau or Party Central Military Commission and was replaced by Gen. Kim Won Hong as the MSS’ member of the NDC.
According to DPRK state media, U Tong Chuk was born in 1942 in South P’yo’ngan Province. He attended and graduated from Kim Il Sung University, and completed advance coursework in philosophy.