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Choe Yong-gon (Korean최용건; Hanja崔庸健; 21 June 1900 – 19 September 1976) was the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army from 1948 to 1950, North Korean defence minister from 1948 to 1957, and the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea from 1957 to 1972.

Choe Yong-gon
Ch'oe Yonggŏn
Kim Il-sung and Choi Yong-kun.jpg
Choi Yong-kun at the funeral of Kim Cheak (1951)
President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea
In office
20 September 1957 – 28 December 1972
PremierKim Il-sung
Preceded byKim Tu-bong
Succeeded byHwang Jang-yop
Personal details
Born21 June 1900
Taechon County, North Pyongan, Korean Empire
Died19 September 1976(1976-09-19) (aged 76)
Pyongyang, North Korea
Political partyKorean Democratic Party, Workers' Party of Korea
Military service
Allegiance North Korea
Branch/service Korean People's Army
Years of service1948–1976
RankVice-Marshal of the DPRK rank insignia.jpg Ch'asu (Vice Marshal)
CommandsSupreme Commander
Battles/warsChinese Civil War
Korean Independence Movement
World War II
Korean War
Choe Yong-gon
Revised RomanizationChoe Yonggeon
McCune–ReischauerCh'oe Yonggŏn


Early life and educationEdit

Choe was born in Taechon County (태천군, 泰川郡) in North Pyongan, Korea, in 1900. He was educated at two military academies.


Choe's first military deployment was to fight the Chinese Northern Expedition of 1927. He also took part in the Canton Communist riots in December later that year.

He led a guerrilla unit against the Japanese after they occupied Manchuria in September 1931.

In 1946, he became the chairman of the Korean Democratic Party (KDP) and led this organization to a pro-communist course.[1] He was, however, concurrently secretly a member of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea and tasked with keeping the KDP from becoming an independent political force.[2] Afterwards, he came into more promotions and by February 1948, he was appointed the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army.[1] He was in fact the senior field commander for all the North Korean armies during the Korean War, from the first invasion of South Korea in June 1950 till the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed in July 1953.

In 1953, Choe was promoted to Vice Marshal and was made the Minister of Defence.[1] In September 1957, he was removed from his position as Minister of Defense and made the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, a largely ceremonial position.[1] In this post, he was North Korea's nominal head of state. He was appointed as Vice President by the Supreme People's Assembly in 1972 and he left the office in 1974.[3][4] He died in Pyongyang in 1976.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

In his memoirs, a former chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly who defected said Choe was famous for being very hard to have close relations with, but in reality he was not that strict.[6]

In 1970 there were reports of his deteriorating health, and after attending in November 1970 the KWP Congress and retaining his Vice-Marshal position, he departed for treatment in the Democratic Republic of Germany.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d Fyodor Tertitskiy (12 June 2014). "An Exception to the Rules of Kimism". DailyNK. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  2. ^ Lankov, Andrei N. (1999). "Kim Il Sung's Campaign against the Soviet Faction in Late 1955 and the Birth of Chuch'e". Korean Studies. 23 (1): 47. doi:10.1353/ks.1999.0003. ISSN 1529-1529.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Choe Yong-Kon". The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). The Gale Group. 1970–1979.
  6. ^ "Seeds of Juche Sown by Sino-Soviet Split", Hwang Jang Yop's memories
  7. ^ R. S. Milward (Chapter on Korea) (1971). Macadam, Ivison; Grindrod, Muriel; Boas, Ann (eds.). The Annual Register of World Events 1970. 212. Great Britain: St. Martin's Press, Longmans, Green and Co Ltd. p. 312,.
Political offices
Preceded by
Kim Tu-bong
Head of State of North Korea
20 September 1957 – 28 December 1972
Succeeded by
Kim Il-sung
as President of the Republic
Preceded by
Kim Tu-bong
Chairmen of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly
Succeeded by
Hwang Jang-yop
Preceded by
Minister of People's Armed Forces
7 February 1953 – 20 September 1957
Succeeded by
Kim Kwang-hyop
Military offices
Preceded by
New Office
Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army
8 February 1948 – 4 July 1950
Succeeded by
Kim Il-sung