Kim Myong Gil: A Biographical Sketch

Recent reports suggest that Kim Myong Gil is the DPRK’s new special envoy to US-DPRK working-level talks and the future counterpart to the US Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun. From 2015 to 2019, Kim served as the DPRK Ambassador to Vietnam. He has worked as a foreign service professional for almost 40 years and has been involved in US-DPRK relations for the last 20 years including as a participant in the Agreed Framework negotiations in the 1990s and the Six-Party Talks in the mid-2000s.

Kim Myong Gil (right) with Kim Jong Un (left) (Photo: KCNA/Rodong Sinmun, February 27, 2019).

Career Highlights

Kim Myong Gil was born March 14, 1959 in Manpo, Chagang (Jagang) Province. He attended Kim Il Sung University and graduated around 1981.

Kim’s career in the North Korean diplomatic service began in 1982 as an entry-level staff member in the Foreign Ministry. In 1985, he was assigned to the DPRK Embassy in Jamaica as a foreign service staff member. In 1990, he was called back to Pyongyang and assigned to the Foreign Ministry’s American Affairs Bureau; in that position, he participated in Agreed Framework negotiations during the early to mid-1990s.

In 1996, Kim was elevated to the position of adviser to the DPRK’s UN Mission in New York. He participated in US-DPRK missile negotiations in Kuala Lumpur in July 2000 and was a member of the late Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok’s delegation when Jo visited Washington in October 2000. In 2002, Kim became a deputy director-general in the American Affairs Bureau.

Photo: KCNA/Rodong Sinmun, February 27, 2019.

In October 2006, Kim Myong Gil was appointed as a representative to the UN Mission in New York, where he served until 2009. In that position, he attended the second session of the 5th round of the Six-Party Talks in Beijing in December 2006 and, as the head DPRK representative, participated in a meeting of the Economy and Energy Cooperation Working Group in 2007.

From 2010 to 2015, Kim served in a senior-level position in the Foreign Ministry with a rank equivalent to director-general. In August 2015, he was appointed DPRK Ambassador to Vietnam. However, in early April 2019, not long after the US-DPRK summit in Hanoi, Kim was recalled to Pyongyang and is believed to be the next special envoy to US-DPRK working-level talks, replacing Kim Hyok Chol. Apparently, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui had requested this move months before, wanting to bring Kim Myong Gil’s real expertise and experience to the negotiations.

Kim is a veteran of US-DPRK talks during the most constructive years and was stationed at the UN Mission in New York when it was an active, front-line assignment. However, he saw things fall apart as well. For instance, Kim was at the table for the disastrous talks with US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly in Pyongyang in October 2002.

An additional biography of Kim Myong Gil can be found on 38 North affiliate North Korea Leadership Watch.

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