Pak Pong-ju

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Pak Pong-ju
9th and 12th Premier of North Korea
Assumed office
1 April 2013
Leader Kim Jong-un
Preceded by Choe Yong-rim
In office
3 September 2003 – 11 April 2007
Leader Kim Jong-il
Preceded by Hong Song-nam
Succeeded by Kim Yong-il
Personal details
Born (1939-10-24) 24 October 1939 (age 79)
Hamgyŏngbukdo, Korea
(now North Hamgyong, North Korea)
Political party Workers' Party of Korea
Pak Pong-ju
Chosŏn'gŭl 박봉주
Hancha 朴奉珠[1]
Revised Romanization Bak Bong-ju
McCune–Reischauer Pak Pongju

Pak Pong-ju (born October 24, 1939 or April 10, 1939)[2] is the current Premier of North Korea, serving in that office since April 2013. He served a previous term from September 3, 2003 until April 11, 2007.[3]

Pak began his career in 1962 as manager of the Yongchon food factory in North Pyong'an Province. He became an alternative member of the ruling Korean Workers' Party (KWP) Central Committee in October 1980, and chief of the Namhung Youth Chemical Combine Committee in July 1983. In May 1993, he became vice director of the KWP's Light Industries Department, and in March 1994, he was the vice director of the party's Economic Policy Supervisory Department. In July of that year, Pak ranked 188th out of 273 members on the funeral committee of the late leader Kim Il-sung, indicating that he was on the periphery of the elite hierarchy. However, in September 1998, he was appointed to the chemical-industries portfolio under premier Hong Song-nam, and replaced him five years later.

In 2005, in a plenary session of the Supreme People's Assembly Pak spoke regarding the reintroduction of the Public distribution system. Pak proposed an administrative solution to food distribution and labeled it the party’s position: "By all means, we must reach this year’s grain production targets by thoroughly implementing the party’s policy of agricultural revolution by fully concentrating and mobilizing the entire country’s efforts into the agricultural front".[4]

On April 11, 2007, the Korean Central News Agency reported that during the 5th session of the 11th Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK, Pak Pong-ju was "relieved … of premiership" and Kim Yong-il elected the new premier.[5] He had not been seen in public since May 2006. It is rumoured that his was removed from office because he misused oil funds to be used for the farming sector,[6] or that he was too heavily focused on economic development suggestions from the People's Republic of China, instead of home-grown ideas.[7]

As Premier, Pak Pong-ju is the head of government in the DPRK, and formed the top executive leadership of the DPRK with other executive officials. The other branch of the executive government is the National Defense Commission of North Korea, led by Chairman of the National Defence Commission Kim Jong-un. As premier, he is responsible for organizing the cabinet and appoints ministers and vice-premiers upon confirmation by the Supreme People's Assembly.[8] Prior to becoming Premier, Pak had served as Chemical Industry Minister. He nominally serves as part of a triumvirate heading the executive branch of the North Korean government, along with Kim Jong-un and SPA Presidium chairman Kim Yong-nam. Each man nominally holds one-third of the powers held by a president in most presidential systems. Pak handles domestic affairs, Kim Yong-nam conducts foreign relations and Kim Jong-un commands the armed forces. In practice, Kim Jong-un, like his father Kim Jong-il before him, exercises absolute control over the government and the country.

On 23 August 2010, the New York Times reported that Pak Pong-ju "resurfaced at a state function in the capital, Pyongyang, on Saturday, carrying the title of first deputy director of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, according to the North’s state-run Korean Central Television."[9] He effectively replaced Kim Jong-il's sister Kim Kyong-hui as director of the Party Light Industry Department in 2012 (he was its vice-director from 1992–1998 and 2010–2012).

He was reputed close to Jang Sung-taek and part of the current shifting of the government's attention to consumer economy.[10] On March 31, 2013 he was elected Politburo member and replaced by Paek Kye-ryong as department director. On April 1, he replaced Choe Yong-rim for a second term as Premier. On April 22, he chaired the first full session of the cabinet which included a discussion of the "byungjin line" of co-developing the economy and nuclear weapons, as well as budgetary issues for the People’s Economy in the first and second quarters of 2013.[11] In July, it was announced that Pak's cabinet had taken full authority over economic measures by calling to "unconditionally executing the cabinet’s decisions and instructions".[12]


  1. Some Chinese media translate as "朴鳳柱".
  2. 북한정보포털
  3. "1st Session of 11th SPA of DPRK Held". KCNA. 2003-09-03. Retrieved 2007-04-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "North Korea PM Says Farming, Increased Electricity, Coal Production Key in 2005" KCBS, April 11, 2005, BBC-MAPP
  5. "5th Session of 11th SPA of DPRK Held". KCNA. 2007-04-11. Retrieved 2007-04-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "North Korean Premier falls from grace and loses job". Reuters. 2007-04-13. Retrieved 2007-04-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "North Korea: New Premier, Changing Priorities". Stratfor. 2007-04-12. Retrieved 2007-04-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Full Text) 1998". Retrieved 2007-04-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Sang-Hun, Choe (2010-08-23). "North Korea Reinstates Market-Oriented Official". NYTimes. Retrieved 2010-08-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Mansourov, Alexandre (17 December 2012). "A Dynamically Stable Regime". 38 North. Retrieved 12 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Pak Opens Account with Conservative Aire". Daily NK. Retrieved 27 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "DPRK Cabinet Holds Second Plenum". paperblog. Retrieved 21 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Political offices
Preceded by
Hong Song-nam
Premier of North Korea
Succeeded by
Kim Yong-il
Preceded by
Choe Yong-rim
Premier of North Korea