Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
The removal from office and execution of Jang Song Taek (Chang So’n-t’aek) and with his close associates, may have resulted in the dismissal of the head of Kim Jong Un’s (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) executive office. Kim Chang Son was the director of the NDC Secretariat where he served as KJU’s chief aide and a key gatekeeper. He has not been observed in state media since late November 2013. Kim had strong political ties to Jang. He also had a personal friendship with Jang and his wife Kim Kyong Hui (Kim Kyo’ng-hu’i) since the 1970s.
Kim Chang Son, also a Korean People’s Army Lieutenant General and Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the Korean Workers’ Party Organization Guidance Department, was regularly seen in DPRK state media attending to and assisting Kim Jong Un at his on-site visits and inspections, although his appearances were not publicized in state media. Kim Chang Son had his most prominent rule (and would be familiar to country watchers) at major national events such as anniversary meetings and sessions of the Supreme People’s Assembly where he could be observed ushering KJU to the platform (rostrum) and ensuring the leader had the meeting’s agenda and script. Kim could also be observed on the sidelines, but close to KJU, during visits to Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun. However, Kim Chang Son has not been observed at any of the anniversary events attended by Kim Jong Un during December 2013. It is not clear if Kim Chang Son has been formally dismissed as part of the ongoing purge of what Kim Jong Un described on 1 January 2014 as “factionalism filth” or if he has merely assumed a less public role because of his ties to Jang.
Kim’s early career was in the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces where he worked on the DPRK’s relations with foreign militaries, including a tour in the 1970s as a deputy defense attaché in Moscow. In the early 1980s he became one of Kim Jong Il’s close aides. He served as deputy director and director of the KWP Administration Department (the same position held by Jang at the time of his execution). Kim Chang Son managed the consolidation of the Administration Department into the KWP Organization Guidance Department [OGD] in 1990 (the department was revived in 2007). From 1990 to 2002 he served as one of his Kim Jong Il’s closest advisers and confidantes handling both political and personal matters for the late leader. In 2002 he was the subject of an investigation by DPRK authorities and was removed from office, appointed as a secretary of the Anju City KWP Committee. Kim’s demotion occurred one year before Jang Song Taek’s three-year disappearance from DPRK public life. Kim Chang Son was eventually rehabilitated and returned to Kim Jong Il’s Personal Secretariat. In 2009 he was selected to serve as a close aide to then-successor Kim Jong Un. During Kim Jong Il’s funeral in December 2011 Kim Chang Son assumed the protocol duties previously performed by Jon Hui Jong (Chon Hu’i-cho’ng).
Kim Chang Son was the son-in-law of DPRK hero Ryu Kyong Su and Ryu’s widow Hwang Sun Hui (Hwang Sun-hu’i), who is a member of the KWP Central Committee and honorary curator of the Museum of the Korean Revolution. Kim Kyong Hui has a close, almost familial relationship, with Hwang Sun Hui and her family, including Kim Chang Son’s wife.