Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Pak Pong Ju (born 1939) is serving as the DPRK’s Premier for the second time. His first appointment to this position was from September 2003 until his formal dismissal at a plenum of the 11th SPA in April 2007 after a suspension in June 2006 for misappropriation of funds. His second appointment began again in 2013. He is also the Vice Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, member of the Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Political Bureau Presidium (standing committee), WPK Central Military Commission, a member of the WPK Central Committee and deputy of the Supreme People’s Assembly.
Pak began his career as a manager of the Ryongchon Food Factory in Ryongchon County, North Pyongan. However, the big boom of his career began in the 1980’s where he served as a party manager of the DPRK’s chemical industries and was elected as an alternate (candidate) member of the WPK Central Committee during the 6th Party Congress in October 1980. He was appointed party secretary of the Namhu’ng Youth Chemical Complex in July 1983. He visited the former Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary in May 1987.
In the 1990’s, Pak’s career migrated from chemical industry to light industry starting in 1992/1993 when he became Kim Kyong Hui’s principal deputy at the CC KWP Light Industry Department. He then changed to her deputy director from 1994-1998 when the Light Industry was consolidated into the party’s Economic Policy Inspection Department. In 1998, he came back to the chemical industry when he was elected a deputy (delegate) to the 10th SPA and appointed Minister of Chemical Industry.
Pak was then elected to the 11th SPA and appointed Premier for his first tenure of service in September 2003. As Premier, Pak was a key figure in the establishment of the July 2002 Decrees. In April 2004, he and Kim Jong Il went to China. In March 2005, he lead a high level delegation to China. In October 2006, he made yet another trip to China with Kim Jong Il. He also fostered a group of innovative policy wonks involved in economic planning and policy.
Following his official dismissal in April 2007, he was replaced by Kim Yong Il, a former Minister of Land and Marine Transport. Some sources also allege that Pak had fallen out of favor, or was undone, due to his support for new economic policies including an hourly wage system and the 2 July 2002 decree. Pak’s status was not known following his ouster until he was identified as a factory manager when he appeared on DPRK television in 2008. He most likely returned the power center in late 2009, with the increasing influence of Jang Song Taek and Kim Kyong Hui, particularly on economic matters. On 15 August 2010 Mainichi Shimbun reported that Pak was working in the central party, due to his ties to Jang and Kim. Pak was identified by his new deputy director’s title when KCBS aired a story on the 50th anniversary of the Okryu Restaurant in Pyongyang. He was instrumental in formulating and executing new economic laws promulgated in the summer of 2010 involving labor rights and the protection of SOEs and JVs in the DPRK.
Pak Pong Ju was the department director of the WPK Light Industry Department from 2012-2013 before his second tenure of service as DPRK Premier.
Pak Pong Ju
State Affairs Commission Vice Chairman
Member, WPK Political Bureau Presidium
Member, WPK Central Military Commission
Member, WPK Central Committee
Deputy, 13th Supreme People’s Assembly
1962: Manager, Yongson Food Factory
1970s: Industrial manager, party cadre
1980: (October) Elected, Alternate Member, WPK Central Committee
1983: Secretary, Namhu’ng Youth Chemical Complex WPK Committee
1989: Chief Secretary, Namhu’ng Youth Chemical Complex, WPK Committee
1993: Deputy director, WPK Light Industry Department
1994: (March) Deputy director, WPK Economic Policy Inspection Department
(July) Member, Kim Il Sung Funeral Committee
1995: (February) Member, O Jin U Funeral
1998: (July) Elected, deputy, 10th Supreme People’s Assembly
(September) Appointed, Minister of Chemical Industry
2002: (March) Order of Kim Il Sung
2003: (August) Deputy, 11th Supreme People’s Assembly
(September) Appointed, DPRK Premier
2005: (October) Member, Yon Hyong Muk Funeral Committee
2007: (April) Removed from office, DPRK Premier
(May) Manager, Sunch’o’n Vinalon Factory
2009: (March) Deputy director, WPK Light Industry Department
2010: (September) Elected, Member, WPK Central Committee (6th CC)
(November) Member, VMar Jo Myong Rok Funeral Committee
2011: Senior deputy director, WPK Light Industry Department
(December) Member, Kim Jong Il Funeral Committee
2012: (April) Elected, Director, WPK Light Industry Department
2013: (March) Elected, Member, WPK Political Bureau
(April) Appointed, DPRK Premier\
(December) Member, Kim Kuk Thae Funeral Committee
2014: (March) Elected, deputy, 13th Supreme People’s Assembly
(July) Member, Jon Pyong Ho Funeral Committee
2015: (November) Member, Ri Ul Sol Funeral Committee
(December) Member, Kim Yang Gon Funeral Committee
2016: (May) Elected, Presidium Member, WPK Political Bureau
Elected, Member, WPK Central Military Commission
Elected, Member, 7th WPK Central Committee
(May) Member, Kang Sok Ju Funeral Committee
(June) Elected, Vice Chairman, State Affairs Commission
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