North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Ryu Mi Yong (1921-2016)

Ryu Mi Yong (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Ryu Mi Yong (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Ryu Mi Yong [Ryu Mi-yo’ng], Member of the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] Presidium, chairwoman of the Ch’o’ndoist Ch’o’ngu Party Central Committee, co-chairwoman of the Democratic Front for the Unification of the Fatherland and member of the North Side Headquarters of the National Alliance for the Country’s Reunification, passed away from lung cancer in Pyongyang on the afternoon of November 23 (Wednesday).  An obituary issued jointly by the SPA Presidium, the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Country and the Ch’o’ndoist Ch’o’ngu Party Central Committee noted that “even if Ryu Mi-yo’ng has passed away, the exploits that she performed for the country and the nation shall last forever.”

Ryu was the widow of former ROK Foreign Minister, diplomat, military commander and Unification Ministry advisor Choe Deok-sin [Ch’oe To’k-sin], who also served as head of the Ch’o’ndoist Ch’o’ngu Party Central Committee and was a vice chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the County (formally known as the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland).  Ryu and Choe emigrated to the United States in 1976 and defected to the DPRK in 1986.  When they defected to the North, they left behind five children, two of whom Ryu reunited with on August 16, 2000 during inter-Korean family reunions held in the South.

Ryu’s career in DPRK politics did not effectively begin until 1990, after her husband’s 1989 death.  In March 1990 she held the position of advisor to the Korean Ch’o’ndoist Church and she was elected to the 9th Supreme People’s Assembly in April the same year.  In April 1991 she became a member of the Central Committee of the North Side Headquarters of the Alliance for the Country’s Reunification.  She became a member of the Ch’o’ndoist Ch’o’ngu Central Committee in 1993 and chairwoman of the church’s central guidance committee in 1994.  She was also appointed as a Vice Chairwoman of the Korean Religionists Council and, in September 1997, was appointed head of the Consultative Council for the Reunification of Tangun Nation.

Ryu Mi Yong's Funeral Committee (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/Rodong Sinmun).

Ryu Mi Yong’s Funeral Committee (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/Rodong Sinmun).

Ryu Mi Yong was re-elected to the Supreme People’s Assembly in 1998.  At the first session of the 10th SPA, she was elected to the SPA Presidium.  During the Sunshine Years, Ryu visited the ROK and participated in numerous inter-Korean events and interactions in both the North and the South.  She was re-elected to the SPA and the SPA Presidium in 2003, 2009 and 2014.  As a senior member of the DPRK leadership, she regularly attended various public events and her last observed appearance was during late 2015.  Ryu Mi Yong was a recipient of the Order of the National Flag, 1st Class, the National Reunification Prize, the Order of Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng), the Order of Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) and other state awards and citations.

A small funeral committee has been organized.  Ryu Mi Yong’s wake will be held November 24 (Thursday) at Sojang Club in Pot’onggang District (Pot’onggang-kuyo’k) and her funeral service will be held on the morning of November 25 (Friday).  Her second son, who resides in the ROK, traveled to the DPRK earlier this week and is currently in Pyongyang to attend the funeral.  

According to Ryu Mi Yong’s obituary:

She was a patriotic political figure who devoted herself to the prosperity of the nation and independent reunification of the country, true to the noble patriotic idea of President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).

Born as the only daughter of Ryu Tong Yol (Ryu Tong-y’ol), a patriot, in an alien land on Feb. 14, Chuch’e 10 (1921) in the dark period of the Japanese imperialist colonial rule, she suffered the bitter sorrow of being a member of the stateless nation. Covering the road of checkered career in pursuit of genuine patriotism, she wandered in south Korea and overseas. Thanks to the profound trust and love of the great leaders she could make a dramatic U turn in her life and enjoyed a worthwhile life after permanently settling in the DPRK together with her husband Choe Tok Sin (Ch’oe To’k-sin).

She worked as adviser to the Central Guidance Committee of the Ch’o’ndoist Association of Korea, chairwoman of the Central Committee of the Ch’o’ndoist Ch’o’ngu Party, chairwoman of the Council for the Reunification of Tangun’s Nation, deputy to the SPA of the DPRK and member of the Presidium of the SPA. She fully supported the line of the building of a powerful socialist country of the Workers’ Party of Korea and its line of achieving national reunification and made positive efforts for implementing them.

She revered Marshal Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) as God of the nation and the sun of salvation of the world and the people and worked heart and soul to bring earlier a new day of unity of all Koreans and country’s reunification till the last moments of her life.

She was awarded Order of Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng), Order of Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il), National Reunification Prize and many other state citations for her feats performed for the great unity of the nation and the accomplishment of the cause of national reunification.

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