Name   Jo Myong-rok
Sex   Male
Date of Birth   1930
Place of Birth   Manchuria, China
Posts Held Political chief of the People’s Army, cadre of the Korean Workers’ Party’s Central and Military Committees, first vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, deputy commander-in-chief, member of the 10th and 11th Supreme People’s Assemblies
Claim to Fame No. 2 man behind Kim Jong-il
Education Korean Workers’ Party’s Central School
Profile Jo Myong-rok is the second-most powerful official in North Korea after supreme leader Kim Jong-il. The air force veteran and vice marshal is at the top of the military hierarchy as first vice chairman of the National Defense Commission.

Before Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule, Jo is believed to have attended flight school in Manchuria, China. After studying at the Soviet Union’s air force academy, he served in the Korean War as a pilot.

In 1975, he was named a major general and commander of anti-aircraft forces of the People’s Army. Two years later, he was promoted to lieutenant general and secretary of the air force. The Central and Military Committees of the Korean Workers’ Party named Jo cadre in 1980. He was promoted to colonel general in 1985, general in 1992 and deputy commander-in-chief in 1995. He also served as the chief of the People’s Army’s political bureau and became first vice chairman of the National Defense Commission in 1998.

Jo almost always accompanies North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on military inspections and other official events. Towards the end of the U.S. Clinton Administration in 2000, Jo made a highly publicized visit to Washington as a special envoy. The subsequent visit to Pyongyang by then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright led many to predict improving bilateral relations, but the presidential inauguration of the hawkish George W. Bush halted the rosy expectations.