Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
updated 14 September 2013
General Kim Kyok Sik is the immediate past Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff and an alternate (candidate) member of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau, a member of the Party Central Military Commission, a member of the Party Central Committee and a member of the National Defense Commission. From 2007 to 2009 Kim served as Chief of the KPA General Staff, from 2009-2011 served as commander of IV Army Corps, from 2011 to 2012 as Vice Minister and in 2013, successively, as Minister of the People’s Armed Forces. In May 2013 Gen. Kim was appointed Chief of the KPA General Staff, a position from which he was quietly dismissed in August 2013.
General Kim is believed to have directed the firing of artillery shells in the West Sea near the Northern Limit Line in November 2009 and the firing of artillery on South Korean islands near the NLL on 23 November 2010. He was also observed participating in a Pyongyang military agreement signing ceremony with a military delegation from Myanmar in November 2008.
Kim Kyok Sik was born in 1938. He studied at Kim Il Sung Military Academy. In the 1970s he served as a military attaché in Syria. Kim likely managed instructors and other training support for the ELF (in Ethiopia) and the Turkish Workers’ Party which the DPRK provided in the early 1970s, in coordination with Syria.
He returned to the DPRK in the early 1980s and served as a squad commander. He was elected a deputy to the 9th Supreme People’s Assembly in 1990. He was elected an alternate member of the CC KWP at its 18th plenum (6th Term/6th CC) in May 1990 and promoted to full membership at the 19th plenum in December 1991. Kim was promoted to Colonel General in 1992 and was a member of Kim Il Sung’s Funeral Committee in July 1994.
Kim Kyok Siik was assigned command of II Army Corps in October 1994 where he served until 2007. He was promoted to General in 1997. In April 2007 Kim was appointed Chief of the KPA General Staff, replacing Kim Yong Chun. He served as chief of the GSD until February 2009, when he was replaced by Ri Yong Ho.
Kim was assigned command of the IV Army Corps. However it is more likely he was assigned command of the Western Area (Region), given his rank and ties to the supreme command of the KPA. After his command assignment in February 2009, General Kim led drills near the NLL. He commanded the firing of artillery shells near the NLL in November 2009.
Kim Kyok Sik’s Party Central Committee membership status was downgraded when his name appeared on a list of alternate (candidate) members on 28 September 2010. Gen. Kim participated in the KPA’s artillery shelling of Yonpyong Island on 23 November 2010. In August 2011 Kim migrated back to Pyongyang where he served as Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces in the MPAF. In November 2012 Gen. Kim was appointed Minister of the People’s Armed Forces. At the March 2013 KWP Central Committee meeting, Kim was elected an alternate member of the KWP Political Bureau and a full member of the Party Central Committee. Kim was a rostrum member at the 7th session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly on 1 April 2013 and was elected a member of the National Defense Commission.
In May 2012, Kim Kyok Sik was removed from office as Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, seven months after his appointment. He made no observed public appearances for nearly three weeks. On 22 May 2013, DPRK state media identified Gen. Kim as Chief of the KPA General Staff, a position he previously held from 2007 to 2009. In early August he was quietly removed from office and his current position is not known.
Kim Kyok Sik
Former Chief of the KPA General Staff (2007-2009; 2013)
Member, National Defense Commission
Alternate Member, KWP Political Bureau
Member, Party Central Military Comission
Alternate member, Party Central Committee (CC KWP)
Deputy, 12th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA)
1971: Deputy Military Attaché
1982: Squadron Commander
1990: Deputy, 9th SPA
Elected, Alternate Member, CC KWP
1991: Elected, Member, CC KWP
1992: Promoted, Colonel General
1994: Member, Kim Il Sung Funeral Committee
Appointed Commander II Army Corps
1995: Member, O Jin U Funeral Committee
1997: Promoted, General
Member, Choe Kwang Funeral Committee
1998: Deputy, 10th SPA
2003: Deputy, 11th SPA
2007: Appointed Chief of the KPA General Staff
2009: Deputy, 12th SPA
Appointed Commander, KPA Western Region or IV Army Corps
2010: Elected, Alternate Member, CC KWP
2011: Appointed, Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces
2012: (October) Appointed, Minister of the People’s Armed Forces
2013: (March) Elected, Alternate Member of the KWP Political Bureau
Elected, Member of the KWP Central Committee
(April): Elected, Member of the National Defense Commission
(May): Removed as Minister of the People’s Armed Forces; appointed, Chief of the KPA General Staff
(August) Removed from office as Chief of the KPA General Staff
Bermudez, Joseph S., Jr. Terrorism: The North Korean Connection New York, NY: Taylor and Francis, 1990, p. 77; “Senior N.Korean Hardliner at Hand During Incursion,” Chosun Ilbo, November 11, 2009; Moe, Wae, “Burma-North Korea Ties: Escalating Over Two Decades” The Irawaddy, July 7, 2010; Yonhap News Agency. North Korea Handbook. Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2003. p. 836; “Report on Plenary Meeting of WPK Central Committee,” Korean Central News Agency, March 31, 2013; “Kim Jong Un Guides Plenary Meeting on 31 March,” Korean Central Broadcasting Station and Korean Central Television, March 31, 2013; “Kim Kyok Sik, Alternate Member of the Political Bureau,” Rodong Sinmun in Korean, April 1, 2013