Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
updated 23 October 2012
Tae Jong Su (T’ae Chong-su) is an alternate (candidate) member of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau and serves as the Chief Secretary of the South Hamgyo’ng KWP Committee. From 2010 to 2012 Tae served as the KWP Secretary and Director of General Affairs. In 2012 he was appointed as the party’s regional boss in South Hamgyo’ng Province, a position he held from 2009 to June 2010.
Tae Jong Su was born in North Hamgyo’ng Province in 1936. He attended the Mangyo’ngdae Revolutionary School and Kim Il-so’ng University. Tae’s first significant position was as Chief Secretary of the North P’yo’ngan KWP Provincial Committee in 1970. In 1976 he was appointed manager of the Hui’chon Precision Machinery Plan. Tae was elected an alternate (candidate) member of the Party Central Committee at the 6th Party Congress in October 1980. He was also a featured speaker on the congress’s fourth day (13 October).
Tae served as a party manager of the DPRK Cabinet’s Secretariat and Minister of Shipbuilding Industry during the 1980s. In the 1990s and 2000s he was the chief party secretary of the Taean Heavy Machine Complex.
He was appointed Vice Premier of the DPRK on 17 October 2007. He was appointed Chief Secretary of the South Hamgyo’ng KWP Provincial Committee around June 2009. He regularly attends Kim Jong Il’s inspection tours. In June 2010 Tae was identified as a department director of the Party Central Committee. He accompanied KJI on trips to China in May and August of 2010.
Tae was elected to membership on the Party Central Committee (CC KWP), an alternate member of the Political Bureau and Secretary and Director of General Affairs for the CC KWP in September 2010. In this position Tae supervised document delivery and other administrative and logistical tasks within the central party (i.e. KWP Central Committee offices) during the transition from Kim Jong Il to Kim Jong Un. Tae also became a fairly regular member of KJI’s entourage, attending performances and on-site guidance and inspection tours. After KJI’s death in December 2011, Tae remained part of the central leadership, but the frequency of his public activities diminished.
In June 2012 Tae appeared on state media television coverage of Korean Children’s Union members returning to Hamhu’ng Central Way Station from the KCU’s anniversary events in Pyongyang. During that media appearance Tae appeared to have returned to his previous position as Chief Secretary of the South Hamgyo’ng KWP Committee. Tae later appeared at a photo-op with supreme leader Kim Jong Un, however he was not part of a group of central party officials. In September 2012, during commemorations for the death of KJI’s mother, Kim Jong Suk, Tae was filmed by DPRK state media delivering a floral basket to a statue of her, along with another South Hamgyo’ng KWP Committee secretary. Later that month Tae was a rostrum member at the 6th session of the 12th Supeme People’s Assembly. In October 2012 Tae participated in commemorations for the anniversary of the foundation of Mangyo’ngdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang.
Tae’s position as the party chief official in South Hamgyo’ng Province was corroborated when he met with PRC Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai when Liu and embassy officials toured South Hamgyo’ng.
Sources: “Profiles of Presidium, Members and Alternate Members of Political Bureau,” Korean Central News Agency, September 29, 2010; “Thae Jong Su Appointed as Vice Premier of DPRK Cabinet,” Korean Central News Agency, October 17, 2007; “First Session of 12th SPA of DPRK Held,” Korean Central News Agency, April 9, 2009; “Kim Jong Il Appreciates Drama,” Korean Central News Agency, August 12, 2009; ” “Kim Jong Il Inspects Nakwon Machine Complex,” Korean Central News Agency, June 18, 2010; ” “Kim Jong Il Pays Unofficial Visit to China,” Korean Central News Agency, August 30, 2010; “Job Change for Tae Jong Su?” by Michael Madden, North Korea Leadership Watch, September 25, 2012; “Ambassador Liu Hongcai Visits DPRK South Hamgyo’ng Province,” PRC Embassy in DPRK (in Chinese), October 22, 2012