Open main menu

Hwang Pyong-so (born c. 1949)[1][2] is a North Korean general and politician who held the rank of Vice Marshal (Korean: 차수, Ch'asu) in the Korean People's Army (KPA). He was a member of the Presidium of the Workers' Party of Korea and the top-ranking vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission.

Hwang Pyong-so
Hwang Pyong-So.jpg
Hwang in October 2014
Vice Chairman of the
Central Military Commission
Assumed office
11 April 2012
Supreme LeaderKim Jong-un
Preceded byChoe Ryong-hae
Director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army
In office
26 April 2014 – 9 February 2018
Supreme LeaderKim Jong-un
Preceded byChoe Ryong-hae
Succeeded byKim Jong-gak
Vice Chairman of the
State Affairs Commission
In office
29 June 2016 – 9 February 2018
Supreme LeaderKim Jong-un
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byChoe Ryong-hae
Vice Chairman of the
National Defence Commission
In office
9 April 2014 – 29 June 2016
Supreme LeaderKim Jong-un
Preceded byChoe Ryong-hae
Succeeded byCommission abolished
Personal details
Bornc. 1949 (aged 68-69)
Political partyWorkers’ Party of Korea
Military service
Allegiance North Korea
Branch/serviceFlag of the Korean People's Army (1992–1993).svg Korean People’s Army
RankVice-Marshal rank insignia (North Korea).svg Vice Marshal
Hwang Pyong-so
Revised RomanizationHwang Byeongseo
McCune–ReischauerHwang Pyŏngsŏ


Hwang has probably spent most of his career in the Organization and Guidance Department (OGD),[3] gaining reputation as the organization's éminence grise.[4] In September 2010, Hwang was appointed an alternate member of the Party Central Committee, holding the position of deputy head of the OGD since the early 2000s with a military and security portfolio. In March 2014 he was elected to the Supreme People's Assembly during the 2014 SPA election; during the same month, he was identified as the first vice-director of the party organization department.[3]

On April 28, 2014 Korean Central News Agency reported that the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea and National Defense Commission promoted Hwang to the rank of vice marshal in the Korean People's Army (KPA) on April 26. He was first seen wearing the four stars of a full general on April 15, meaning he moved up two ranks – from colonel general in a short time. In an April 27 KCNA report on an artillery drill, Hwang was referred to for the first time as a member of the party Central Military Commission.[5] Later on May 1 he was revealed to be the new chief of the General Political Bureau of the KPA, considered the most senior position in the military after the supreme commander. On September 25 he also replaced former No. 2 Choe Ryong-hae in his last military capacity as first vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission, retaining the position as the NDC was transformed into the State Affairs Commission on 29 June 2016. On 18 February 2015 he was elevated to the top Presidium during a Politburo meeting. Hwang Pyong-so is seen as a key aide to Kim Jong-un.

Hwang is widely reported to have been a university classmate of Kim's aunt Kim Kyong-hui and reportedly maintained close ties with Kim Jong-un’s mother Ko Yong-hui.[6]

Hwang's appearance at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Asian Games in the absence of Kim Jong-un, and his subsequent trip to South Korea, led to speculation in the Western press about his role within the North Korean government.[7][8]

In November 2017, according to South Korean intelligence, Hwang was facing unspecified punishment.[9] On 9 February 2018, North Korean media confirmed that Hwang Pyong-so had been replaced by Kim Jong-gak as the Director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA.[10] Hwang was soon rehabilitated, reappearing in public in February 2018.[11]

In December 2018, the South Korean Ministry of Unification reported that Hwang held the post of First Vice-chairman of the Organization and Guidance Department.[12]


  1. ^ "Sanctions List Search - Hwang Pyong-so". US Treasury. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  2. ^ Lam, Katherine (2017-12-14). "Kim Jong Un's top aide executed by North Korean death squad, reports suggest". Fox News. Retrieved 2017-12-14.
  3. ^ a b "Hwang Pyong So (Hwang Pyo'ng-so')". North Korea Leadership Watch. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  4. ^ Foster-Carter, Aidan (8 October 2018). "How the world misunderestimated Kim Jong Un". NK News. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  5. ^ Hwang Pyong So promoted to Vice-Marshal, elevated in Party, NK News, April 28, 2014
  6. ^ Hwang Pyong So Elevated to Vice Marshal, Daily NK, April 28, 2014
  7. ^ Christopher Green (8 October 2014). "Kim Jong-un: has the North Korean dynasty fallen?". The Guardian.
  8. ^ Gerdon G. Chang (5 October 2014). "Has North Korea's Kim Jong Un Been Toppled?". The Daily Beast.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "North Korea confirms dismissal of top military general". Channel NewsAsia. 9 February 2018. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Zwirko, Colin (28 December 2018). "North Korean leadership shakeups revealed in latest MOU reference book release". NK News.
Military offices
Preceded by
Choe Ryong-hae
Director of the KPA General Political Bureau
Succeeded by
Kim Jong-gak