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Kang Sok-ju (Korean: 강석주;[1] Korean pronunciation: [kaŋ.sɔk̚.t͈su]; August 29, 1939 – May 20, 2016[2]) was a North Korean diplomat and politician.

Kang Sok-ju
Kang Sok-ju.jpg
Vice Premier of North Korea
In office
September 2010 – May 2016
PremierChoe Yong-rim
Pak Pong-ju
Supreme LeaderKim Jong-un
Kim Jong-un
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
PremierKim Yong-il
Supreme LeaderKim Jong-il
Preceded byPaek Nam-sun
Succeeded byPak Ui-chun
Personal details
Born(1939-08-29)August 29, 1939
Pyongwon, South Pyongan
DiedMay 20, 2016(2016-05-20) (aged 76)
Pyongyang, North Korea
Political partyWorkers' Party of Korea
Alma materUniversity of International Affairs

Having obtained a Bachelor's degree in French from the University of International Affairs in Pyongyang, Kang began a diplomatic career. His first significant position was as the Korean Workers' Party's deputy director for international affairs, and then director.

In 1980, he was appointed section leader of his bureau. In 1984, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 1986 he became First Vice Foreign Minister, a position which he held until 2010.[2]

In the 1990s, he was prominently involved in diplomatic talks with the United States over the issue of his country's nuclear programme. He was subsequently in charge of supervising North Korea's relations with the United States, which became his area of expertise.[2] Reuters states that Kang "engineered the development of the North's nuclear programme that [...] has been the key source of regional security tensions".[3]

KBS describes him as being "among a handful of well-known North Korean officials", who has "gained global attention", and adds: "Considered too aggressive at times, Kang sometimes caused problems with his pushy demeanor. In the early 1990s, he made several crucial decisions without consulting the party and was sent to a concentration camp for training in revolutionary discipline".[2]

In September 2010, he was promoted to the position of Deputy Premier of the North Korean Government, under Premier Choe Yong-rim.[4] His specific assignment was to oversee foreign policy.[5] Kim Kye-gwan replaced him as First Vice Foreign Minister.[3]

The BBC described Kang as "a confidant of leader Kim Jong-il".[5]

Kang died on May 20, 2016 from esophageal cancer.[6] His funeral committee was chaired by Choe Ryong-hae and had 52 other members.[7]


  1. ^ "북한 외교라인 격상…6자회담 '청신호' 될까", SBS, September 23, 2010
  2. ^ a b c d Biography on KBS
  3. ^ a b "North Korea's top nuclear diplomat promoted to vice premier", Reuters, September 22, 2010
  4. ^ "N.Korea reshuffles officials ahead of key meeting", Agence France-Presse, September 23, 2010
  5. ^ a b "North Korea reshuffles diplomats", BBC, September 23, 2010
  6. ^ "Top N. Korean diplomat Kang Sok-ju dies of cancer: state media". The Korea Tiems. Yonhap. May 21, 2016. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  7. ^ "Kang Sok Ju Dies". KCNA. May 21, 2016. Archived from the original on May 21, 2016.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Paek Nam-sun
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Pak Ui-chun