Name   Kang Sok-ju
Sex   Male
Date of Birth   August 29, 1939
Place of Birth   Pyongwon, South Pyongan Province
Posts Held Cadre of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party, first vice foreign minister, member of the 10th and 11th Supreme People’s Assemblies
Claim to Fame Expert in relations with the United States
Education Bachelor’s in French from University of International Affairs (Pyongyang)
Profile A veteran diplomat, Kang Sok-ju is a major force in the North Korean diplomatic corps.

Spending several years of college in China, he began his diplomatic career as deputy director for international affairs of the Korean Workers’ Party. After promotions to director and assistant section leader, he was named his bureau’s section leader in 1980. Four years later, he followed then bureau chief Kim Yong-nam to the Foreign Ministry and has served as first vice foreign minister since 1986.

Kang is among a handful of well-known North Korean officials. He first gained global attention in the 1990s in talks with the United States on the North’s nuclear program, and helped draft the 1994 Geneva Accord that set the basis for North Korea-U.S. relations.

Since then, he has supervised the North’s diplomacy toward the United States. In 1999, he greeted in Pyongyang former U.S. Defense Secretary and point man on North Korea William Perry, who later authored a report on the North. A year later, Kang accompanied Kim Jong-il’s special envoy Jo Myong-rok to Washington and led working-level contacts between the two sides to improve bilateral relations.

Kang has met with many American officials during their visits to Pyongyang, including congressmen Bill Richardson and Tony Hall and former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea James Laney.

Kang also attended Kim Il-sung’s 1994 summit with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Considered too aggressive at times, Kang has 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. His brother Sok-song is the director of a think tank on the party’s history.