Name   O Kuk-ryol
Sex   Male
Date of Birth   1931
Place of Birth   Jilin Province, China
Posts Held Strategy chief of the Korean Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, committee cadre, member of the 10th and 11th Supreme People’s Assemblies
Claim to Fame Military general, expert in relations with South Korea
Education Mankyongdae Revolutionary Academy, Kim Il Sung University, Frunze Naval School (St. Petersburg)
Profile Military strongman O Kuk-ryol grew up together with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

A second-generation revolutionary, he was one of the first graduates of Mankyongdae Revolutionary Academy. He is the only son of O Jung-song, who fought alongside the late Kim Il-sung towards the end of Japanese colonial rule of Korea, and a nephew of war hero O Jung-hup. The mother of Kim Jong-il looked after O Kuk-ryol, thus the two men are like brothers and have deep mutual trust.

O Kuk-ryol started his career in 1964 as a major general and superintendent of the North’s air force academy. He was named a lieutenant general and air force commander in 1967. He was made cadre in the 1970 Supreme People’s Assembly and rose to deputy chief of staff of the People’s Army in 1977.

His ascent to the upper echelons of the North’s brass was complete in 1979, when he assumed the posts of People’s Army chief of staff and political cadre. A disagreement with the late People’s Armed Forces Minister O Jin-u, however, forced his temporary departure from the military. O Kuk-ryol was named colonel general in 1980 and cadre of the Central, Political and Military Committees of the Worker’s Party. He rose to general in 1985, but was stripped of his titles in 1988 as deputy chief of staff of the People’s Army and cadre of the three committees. Nonetheless, he returned as chief of the defense bureau of the party’s Central Committee and party strategy chief in 1989.

O is said to take good care of his health by walking 10,000 steps a day. He is a noted strategist with keen analytical skills and fluency in English, Russian and Chinese. Considered open to modern thinking, he led the foundation of Mirim Automation College to train troops for electronic warfare.

He and his wife have a son and five daughters. His eldest daughter works as a screenwriter for a film company.