North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Jon Il Chun

Cho'n Il-ch'un, attending KCI's guidance tour of a seafood processing facility in February 2010. (Photo: KCNA)

Cho’n Il ch’un is a deputy director of the CC KWP Finance and Accounting Department and section head of Office #39.  Cho’n also holds concurrent positions as a director of T’aesong Group, President of the DPRK State Development Bank and the DPRK T’aepu’ng International of Investment Groups.  He is one of Kim Cho’ng-il’s closest friends and has been linked to DPRK foreign trade for almost 40 years.  Cho’n replaced Kim To’ng-u’n as chief of Office #39 in early 2010.

Cho’n Il-ch’un was born in Pyongyang on 25 August 1941.  He was a classmate and childhood friend of Kim Jong Il’s at the Namsan Senior High School and Kim Il-so’ng University.  His first significant position was as a director at the country’s Ministry of Foreign Trade in August 1973.  He traveled to Malaysia as part of an official delegation.  He also completed trade deals in the early 1980s with Zimbabwe and Angola.

In January 1981 he was appointed Vice Chairman of the State External Economic Affairs Commission.  In January 1993 he was promoted to Chairman of the State External Economic Affairs Commission.  In February 1995, Cho’n Il-ch’un became the 1st Vice President of the T’aesong Economic Group, one of the corporations linked to Office #39.  In February 1998, he was appointed deputy director of Office #39.  In April 2009 Cho’n Il-ch’un was elected a deputy to the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly.

A sporadic member of KJI’s guidance tour retinue in the 1990s and early 2000s, Cho’n began appearing more frequently with Kim Cho’ng-il in 2009 and 2010.  He came to the attention of Pyongyang watchers in early 2010 when he was appointed chief executive of T’aepu’ng International Investment Group and the State Development Bank.  In February 2010 he organized Kim Cho’ng-il’s guidance tour of one of a seafood company controlled by Office #39.

Cho’n Il-ch’un did not appears on lists of Party Central Committee (CC KWP) members or other leadership in September 2010 nor was observed in DPRK media for several months.  However he was observed by ROK media at Kim Cho’ng-il’s side during the latter’s tour at the So’nhung Foodstuffs Factory in Pyongyang in December 2010.

Jon Il Chun attends KJI's on the spot guidance of the Mt. Myohyang national park in 2009 (Photo: KCNA)

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