Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
updated 13 January 2011
Colonel General Choe Sang-uk is a former Korean People’s Army [KPA] artillery commander and former member of the Party Central Military Commission [CMC] from 1980 to 2010. Choe was specialist in light infantry and also had ties to the country’s ballistic missile program.
Choe Sang-uk was born in 1929 in Changsong County, North Pyongan. He attended the Mangyongdae School and the Hoeryong Military Cadres School, where he studied guerrilla warfare. During the Fatherland Liberation (Korean) War Choe began as a squad leader and promoted to company commander. Following the war, Choe was among a group of KPA soliders who received professional military education in Russia (USSR).
Choe served as a notification and guidance officer in the CC KWP Military Department and worked as a section chief in the KPA General Staff Department from 1961 to 1964. From 1964 to 1966 he served as deputy brigade commander of the KPA 16th Light Infantry. In 1966 he was promoted to commander. Prior to deployment outside the DPRK, Choe Sang-uk served as deputy commander of the KPA’s VIII LIC/SPC Corps.
From the early 1970s (ca. 1973-1976) Choe served as head of a KPA mission for the NVA during the Vietnam War. He returned to the DPRK about 1976 and was elected an alternate (candidate) member of the Party Central Committee. Around 1978 Choe was assigned command of the VIII LIC/SPC Corps. Choe was also elected to his first term as a deputy (delegate) to the 6th Supreme People’s Assembly.
At the 6th Party Congress in October 1980 Choe Sang-uk was elected as a full (regular) member of the CC KWP. HE was also elected a member of the CMC. From the mid 1980’s to the 2000s Choe was active as commander of the KPA Artillery Command, as well as a GSD inspector. For a number of years Choe managed the Artillery Guidance Bureau. He was also a military adviser Kim Chong-il. Choe was part of a group of KPA leaders that included O Kuk-yol, Kim Kang-hwan and Kim Yong-chun.
Choe’s name did not appear on the list of either CMC or CC KWP members after the 3rd Party Conference and September 2010 CC KWP Plenary Meeting.
Choe has a quiet presence and calm, laid-back personality.
“Biographic Information on 100 Officials,” Wolkan Kyonghyang, January 1989
Gause, Ken. North Korea Civil-Military Trends: Military-First Politics to a Point (Carlisle, PA: USAWC SSI, 2006) p. 32