Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
updated 22 December 2010
The Military Security Command is an agency in the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff tasked with monitoring the activities and political loyalties of DPRK military commanders and other KPA officers. The MSC has broad investigative and arrest powers in its mission to ferret out anti-party or anti-state individuals, activities or organizations MSC has jurisdiction over both military officers and DPRK civilians. Among its other tasks, the MSC is responsible for the personal security escort of Kim Jong Un and other members of the DPRK central leadership during their visits to military units and infrastructure projects. It also manages records and other government paperwork for the families of KPA officers.
The Military Security Command is dispersed throughout the KPA. The MSC maintains Security Departments at the corps and division levels (provincial branch offices). Military security officers, or other MSC operatives, reside at the level of regiment and battalion, often operating under cover. The MSC has a number of electronic and signals intelligence assets to monitor communications, orders compliance and conversations of KPA general-grade officers as well as military or civilian investigation targets.
Command and reportage
The Military Security Command chief is assisted by a 1st deputy who is concurrently director of the MSC’s political department (bureau) and several deputy security commanders.
The current MSC chief is Jo Kyong Chol, who holds the rank of three-star Colonel General (sangjang). According to South Korean media reporting, Col. Gen. Jo was appointed in 2009. By all outward appearances, however, the incumbent commander, Gen. Kim Won Hong, discharged a number of MSC-related functions.
MSC is technically part of the KPA General Staff Department, however it reports to and coordinates with the Ministry of State Security.