North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Gen. Kim Won Hong

updated 12 April 2012

General Kim Won Hong is Minister of State Security, a member of the Korean Workers’ Party Political Bureau and member of the Party Central Military Commission [CMC].  He is also a member of the Party Central Committee and deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly.  According to DPRK state media, Gen. Kim was appointed Minister of State Security in April 2012.  From 2004 to approximately 2010, Gen. Kim headed the Military Security Command [MSC], which polices, investigates and watches military officers and facilities.  Gen. Kim frequently shadowed Kim Jong Il during his appearances at military bases or military-related locales within the DPRK.

Kim Won Hong was born in 1945.  He joined the Korean People’s Army [KPA] in 1962.  Kim became known to external observers as a member of MAR Choe Kwang’s funeral committee in 1997. He was elected a deputy (delegate) to the 10th Supreme People’s Assembly. Prior to his service in the Military Security Command, Kim was deputy director of the KPA General Political Department as well as commanding officer of VII and IX Army Corps, both of which are linked to the MSC.  He was appointed MSC chief around 2004 after the death of longtime MSC commander General Won Ung Hui.  Kim was promoted to General in April 2009.  In 2009 or 2010, Gen. Kim reportedly migrated from MSC to an unspecified position in support of hereditary successor Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n).

Kim Won Hong was elected a member of the Party Central Committee (CC KWP) and member of the Party Central Military Commission at the 3rd Party Conference on 28 September 2010.  During the 3rd Party Conference, Gen. Kim was seated next to Kim Jong Un.  Since Kim Jong Il’s death, Kim Won Hong has regularly accompanied Kim Jong Un on his inspections of KPA units.  Gen. Kim is one of four senior KPA officials prominently depicted supporting and assisting Kim Jong Un.  On 8 March 2012, Gen. Kim sang a duet during a concert by the U’nhasu Orchestra held on International Women’s Day. On 11 April Kim was elected to full (candidate) membership on the Political Bureau and was identified as Minister of State Security.

Gause, Ken.  North Korean Civil-Military Trends: Military-first Politics to a Point.  (Carlisle, PA: USAWC Strategic Studies Institute, September 2006) p. 42

Korean Central News Agency.  “Brief History of Member of Presidium, Members and Alternate Members of the Political Bureau of the C.C., WPK, Elected to Fill Vacancies,” April 12, 2012

Yonhap News Agency. The North Korea Handbook (Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2003) p. 857

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