North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Ri Yong Ho (Foreign Affairs)

(For Ri Yong Ho, Chief of the KPA General Staff, go here)

Ri Yong Ho is Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and DPRK representative to the Six Party Talks.  He is also an alternate (candidate) member of the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee (CC KWP) and a 3rd generation DPRK elite.  Ri is a protégé of Kang Sok Ju.  For nearly 20 years has been one of the central diplomatic managers of the country’s relations with the US, UN and the ROK.

Ri Yong Ho was born in 1954.  He is the son of Ri Myong Je, a former KCNA editor who has served as a deputy director of Kim Jong Il’s Personal Secretariat.  Ri Yong Ho attended Namsan Senior Middle School and studied English at Pyongyang University of Foreign Language.

Ri began his career at the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs in 1978.  From 1979 to 1984 he held the title of secretary at the DPRK’s embassy in Zimbabwe.  From 1985 to 1988 he held the same position at the DPRK’s embassy in Sweden.  Ri Yong Ho returned to Pyongyang in 1988.  From 1988 to 1995 he was a manager of MOFA’s International Organizations Bureau, eventually promoted to deputy director-general.

In 1995 Ri was promoted to councilor at MOFA. He began participating in the DPRK’s negotiations with the US over its nuclear programs.  He accompanied NDC 1st Vice Chairman, Jo Myong Rok, on a 2000 trip to the United States.  In the 2000s Ri would hold several ambassadorial titles, including representing the DPRK in western Europe.  Ri returned to Pyongyang to become a general diplomatic counsel, including some responsibility for the 6 Party Talks.

Ri Yong Ho accompanied DPRK Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun on his trip through Asia, including to the ASEAN forum in Hanoi, in July 2010.   Ri was appointed Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs 23 September 2010, replacing Kim Kye Kwan who was promoted to Senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Ri Yong Ho

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

1978: Policy Staff, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

1979: Secretary, DPRK Embassy, Zimbabwe

1985: Secretary, DPRK Embassy, Sweden

1988: Section Chief, Bureau of International Organizations, MOFA

1991: Deputy Director-General, Bureau of International Organizations, MOFA

1995: Councilor, MOFA

2000: Uses title Ambassador at Large

2003: DPRK Ambassador (overseas)

2007: Councilor and negotiator, MOFA

2010: Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

Elected, Alternate Member, CC KWP


Yonhap News Agency.  North Korea Handbok (Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2003) pp. 186-87; 905

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