Kim Chol-man

Kim Chol-man (김철만; 2 November 1920 – 3 December 2018)[1] was a North Korean politician and military official. He was a member of several important committees and organizations, including the Central Military Commission, the Politburo, and the Second Economic Committee. He was at the forefront of the North Korean munitions industry, the country's economic base. In old age Kim was no longer considered a major player in North Korean politics, having retired from most of his important posts.

Colonel General

Kim Chol-man
Kim Chol-man.jpg
Born2 November 1920
South Pyongan Province, Japanese Korea
Died3 December 2018 (aged 98)
Pyongyang, North Korea
Allegiance North Korea
Service/branchKorean People's Army
Years of service1937–2018
RankColonel General
Battles/warsKorean War
AwardsHero of the Republic
Double Hero
Kim Chol-man
Revised RomanizationGim Cheolman
McCune–ReischauerKim Ch'ŏl Man

Early life and educationEdit

Kim was born in 1920 in South Pyongan Province. He is the brother-in-law of Han Tok-su, former chairman of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.[1]

He was trained at the Frunze Military Academy in the Soviet Union, then known as the RKKA Military Academy.[1]

Military careerEdit

Kim joined Kim Il-sung's United Army in 1937 along with other first-generation leaders such as Ri Ul-sol and Kim Ik-hyon.[2]

Military career[1]
Position/rank Date promoted Unit
Colonel (sangjwa) 1945 Korean People's Army
Commanding Officer September 1948 25th Regiment, 12th Division, Korean People's Army
Major General (sojang) 1953 Korean People's Army
Commanding Officer April 1955 37th Division, Korean People's Army
Lieutenant General (chungjang) July 1962 Korean People's Army
Commanding Officer January 1965 2nd Army Corps, Korean People's Army
Deputy Chief of Staff February 1968 Korean People's Army
Colonel General (sangjang) February 1968 Korean People's Army
Senior Deputy Chief of Staff July 1970 Korean People's Army
Director-General (daejang) September 1988 Bureau of Supply and Maintenance, Korean People's Army

Kim saw action in the Korean War and suffered physical wounds.[2]

Kim also held many para-military posts. In 1964, he became the Director-General of the Strategy Bureau in the Ministry of People's Security. During this time, he was a central figure in the establishment of a unitary leadership and a collective principle system in North Korea, along with Kim Jong-il.[1] In October 1980 he was appointed a member of the powerful Central Military Commission of the Korean Workers' Party. In September 1998 he became a member of the National Defense Commission.[1] Kim led North Korea's munitions industry, the country's economic base, along with Korean Workers' Party Secretary Jon Pyong-ho.[2]

Political careerEdit

In November 1967, as a member of the first generation of North Korean leadership, Kim was elected as an alternate member to the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party. He was elevated to full member status in November 1970.[1] Kim's position was placed in danger following a 1969 purge of military officials, but survived untouched.[2] For a short period of time (October 1980 – September 1981) Kim was an alternate member of the Politburo of the Workers' Party of Korea, the highest decision-making body of North Korea.[1]

Special positions he held include the Chair of the Second Economic Committee, and the funeral committees of both Kim Il-sung and O Jin-u.[1] The funeral committees are often seen as an indicator of de facto power.[3][4]

In old age, Kim was retired from many of his positions. During a reshuffle in 2003, which saw the removal of other members of the first generation of North Korean leadership such as Ri Ul-sol,[5][6] Kim was retired from the Second Economic Committee and the National Defense Commission.[7] He held on to membership in the Central Military Committee until September 2010.[7]

He was a delegate deputy to the 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Supreme People's Assemblies.[1]


Kim was the recipient of the Hero of the Republic and Double Hero awards in 1968 and 1992 respectively.[1]


Kim Chol-man died of bladder cancer on 3 December 2018 at the age of 98.[8] His funeral committee was chaired by Kim Jong-un and was composed of the following members:[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Kim Chol-man" (PDF). North Korean Leadership Watch. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d "Kim Chol-man". Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  3. ^ Hakoda, Tetsuya (27 December 2011). "All eyes set on Kim Jong Il's funeral committee list". Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Clues from Kim Jong-il Funeral List". Chosun Ilbo. 20 December 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  5. ^ Haggard, Stephan. "Purges and Appointments I: What's Going On?". Peterson Institute for International Economics. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  6. ^ "N.Korea Purges Party, Military". Chosun Ilbo. 5 February 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Kim Chol Man". North Korean Leadership Watch. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Kim Jong Un offers condolence over death WPK Central Committee member". United News of India. 5 December 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  9. ^ "State Funeral Committee for Kim Chol Man Formed". KCNA. 4 December 2018. Archived from the original on 5 December 2018.