O Kuk-ryol passed away?

Since a long time, we can’t remark the presence of O Kuk-ryol to official DPRK events. O Kuk-ryol

Born in 1939 in Jilin province, O Kuk-ryol was educated at the prestigious Mangyongdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang and later enrolled in Kim Il Sung University.

He subsequently studied air power and learned Russian at the Frunze Military Academy, one of the most advanced academic institutes for military education in the Soviet Union. Born in Jilin Province (part of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo at the time), O Kuk Ryol is also fluent in Chinese. He is also said to speak English fluently, but, like Kim Jong-Un’s supposed command of German and French, evidence for this assertion is purely anecdotal.

A Rising Political Star | In the 1960s, O Kuk Ryol jumpstarted his career in the North Korean air force  and joined the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party. According to one source, during the Yom Kippur War, O was an air pilot who helped Egyptian forces.  In 1979, he was promoted to the head of the North Korean Army. As he rose through the North Korean government, O’s support of Kim Jong-Il’s successor status was crucial during the 1980s.

In 1988, O Kuk Ryol was temporarily sidelined, as Choe Kwang, a former ally of Kim Il Sung, took over O’s leadership posts. Despite this setback, O persevered, and eventually returned to the top of the North Korean military scene in 2009. He was nominated as Vice-Chairman of the National Defense Commission, the most powerful military organization in North Korea. O, however, is not a very influential political figure—he does not belong to the Politbureau of the Korean Workers’ Party, for example.

O Kuk Ryol is a classic product of the Songun (military-first) oriented North Korean leadership style. He was an advisor to Kim Il Sung, to Kim Jong Il, and now his son, O Se Won, is an advisor to Kim Jong Un—apparently on relations with China. O Kuk Ryol is also reportedly an advisor to Kim Jong Un on operations against South Korea. If this is true, O Kuk Ryol was probably involved and partially responsible for the Cheonan Incident in March 2010. Being the head of the Korean International Trade Company, I presume that O Kuk-ryol got retired and left the keys of his companies to key-members of his family (some of them are based abroad – including the former no 2 of the DPRK embassy in UK, Thae yong-ho)

img_20160427_124246
Note chairs behind Jon Pyong-ho (former SEC boss, passed away in 2014) and O Kuk-ryol (second from right). These seats confirm that Jon and O were already suffering. (Source of the picture: NK propaganda materials)
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Nicolas Levi

Analyst on North Korean issues

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