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Kim Yong-ju (Korean김영주; born 21 September 1920) is a North Korean politician and the younger brother of Kim Il-sung, who ruled North Korea from 1948 to 1994. Under his brother's rule, Kim Yong-ju held key posts in the Workers' Party of Korea during the 1960s and early 1970s, but he fell out of favor in 1974 following a power struggle with Kim Jong-il. Since 1998, he has held the ceremonial position of Honorary Vice President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea's parliament.

Kim Yong-ju
Vice President of North Korea
In office
December 1993 – October 1997
PresidentKim Il-sung
Vice President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly
Assumed office
September 1998
PresidentChoe Ryong-hae
Kim Yong-nam
Vice Premier of North Korea
In office
LeaderKim Il-sung
Head of the WPK Organization and Guidance Department
In office
LeaderKim Il-sung
Succeeded byKim Jong-il
Personal details
Born (1920-09-21) 21 September 1920 (age 98)
Mangyongdae, Japanese Korea
Political partyWorkers' Party of Korea
ParentsKim Hyong-jik
Kang Pan-sok


Kim Yong-ju was born to Kim Hyŏng-jik and Kang Pan-sŏk in Mangyongdae in 1920,[1] 8 years after his elder brother Kim Il-sung. When Kim was 3 years old, his family moved to southern Manchuria.[2]

After graduating from economics department at the Moscow State University in 1945,[3] where he also took a deep interest in philosophy,[4] Kim Yong-ju joined the Workers' Party of Korea. His rise through the party's echelons was fast: from the 1950s to the 1960s he was chief cadre (1954), vice-director (1957) and finally director (1960) of the WPK Organization and Guidance Department, and he was appointed member of the WPK Central Committee at the Party's 4th Congress in 1961. In 1966 he was promoted to Organizing Secretary of the WPK Central Committee.

In 1967, he proposed to his brother the "Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System" (whose first principle was: "We must give our all in the struggle to unify the entire society with the revolutionary ideology of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung"), which were published only in 1974.[5]

By 1970, when he was elected Politburo member, Kim Yong-ju was widely believed to be Kim Il-sung's most likely successor.[6] He was also elected to the top Central People's Committee and the SPA Presidium in 1972. However, at the same time Kim Il-sung started grooming his own son Kim Jong-il to be his designated successor, and a power struggle erupted.[4]

It was the period when the WPK was focusing ideologically on Kim Il-sung's Juche; while Kim Jong-il actively stood for this process, Kim Yong-ju, having studied in Russia, supported a more classical view of Marxism and was not fond of the extensive personality cult built around his brother.[4] This played to Kim Jong-il's advantage: Kim Yong-ju was more and more marginalized, his key allies Kim To-man (director of propaganda) and Pak Yong-guk [zh] (director of international liaison) were removed, and he himself was finally attacked by Kim Il-sung. After a Central Committee plenum in February 1974, Kim Jong-il was granted the position of heir apparent and Kim Yong-ju was demoted to vice-premier.[4]

Kim Yong-ju completely disappeared from the limelight until 1993, when he was called back to Pyongyang by Kim Il-sung to serve as one of the Vice Presidents.[7][8] After the post of President of the DPRK was awarded eternally to Kim Il-sung, Kim Yong-ju was appointed Honorary Vice-President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly in 1998, a post he currently holds.


  1. ^ Profile of Kim Yong-ju in James Hoare, "Historical Dictionary of Democratic People's Republic of Korea" book (Scarecrow Press, 2012, ISBN 9780810861510), page 226
  2. ^ Kim Yong-ju The New York Times Archives, originally published on July 5, 1972.
  3. ^ "My First Trials Begin". The Daily NK. July 19, 2010. Kim Young Ju was from the law department at Moscow University
  4. ^ a b c d Hwang Jang Yop's Memoirs (2006)
  5. ^ Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System, Columbia Law School website
  6. ^ "The Losers in N.Korea's Ruling Family", Chosun Ilbo, February 17, 2011.
  7. ^
  8. ^