Ch'oe Yonggŏn
[Marshal NKPA]

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Choe Yong-gon
Chosŏn'gŭl 최용건
Hancha 崔庸健
Revised Romanization Choe Yonggeon
McCune–Reischauer Ch'oe Yonggŏn
Choe Yong-gon
Native name 최용건
Born (1900-06-21)June 21, 1900
Taechon County (태천군, 泰川郡) in North Pyongan, Korea,
Died September 19, 1976(1976-09-19) (aged 76)
Citizenship North Korean
Alma mater two military academies (?)
Political party Korean Democratic Party
Religion None



The cabinet of DPRK(North Korea) visited Moscow of Soviet Union, climbing stairs with Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union in March 1949. From left to right, Park Hon-yong, Choe Yong-jun, Hong Myong-hee, Kim Il-sung. 

Choe Yong-gon (최용건, June 21, 1900 – September 19, 1976) was the Korean People's Army commander-in-chief from 1948 to 1953 North Korean defence minister from 1953 to 1957, and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea from 1957 to 1972.

Choe Yong-gon was born in Taechon County (태천군, 泰川郡) in North Pyongan, Korea, in 1900. After having attended two military academies, he fought in the Chinese Northern Expedition of 1927 and took part in the Canton Communist riots in December later that year. He led a guerrilla unit against the Japanese after they occupied Manchuria in September 1931.

In 1946, he became the chairman of the Korean Democratic Party and led this organization to a pro-communist course. Afterwards, he came into more promotions and by February 1948, he was appointed the commander-in-chief for all the armies of the Democratic Republic of Korea.

He was in fact the senior field commander for all the North Korean armies during the Korean War, from the first invasion of South Korea in June 1950 till the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed in July 1953.

After the Korean War ended, Choe was promoted to Vice Marshal and was made the Minister of Defence. In September 1957, he was removed from his position as Minister of National Defense and made the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, a largely ceremonial position. In this post, he was North Korea's nominal head of state. He retired in 1972 and died in Pyongyang in 1976.

In his memoirs, a former chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly who defected said Choe was famous for being very hard to have close relations with, but in reality he was not that strict.


In contrast to this rough diamond, Marshal Choe Yong Gun cut a reserved and dignified figure as deputy commander in chief and minister of national defense. Born in Hongch'ŏn, Korea, at the turn of the century, he had the equivalent of a high school education. In 1925 he went to China and is believed to have attended the Whampoa Military Academy at Nanking and the Yenan Military School. At Yenan, after being converted to communism, he became a political instructor and later served in the 8th Route Army. Choe was commander of the Korean Volunteer Army in 1941 and fought against the Japanese in Manchuria. Returning to Korea in 1945, he commanded the Cadre Training Center until 1948, when he was named the first commander in chief.

Even Choe’s enemies in South Korea credited him with a high order of intellectual capacity and moral courage. Despite his Communist party membership, he opposed the invasion of the Republic of Korea. He was cool, moreover, toward Lieutenant General Vasilev and the other Soviet advisers who reached Pyongyang in 1949 to prepare the Korean armed forces for an offensive war. This attitude probably explains why he was sidetracked in March 1950, when Vasilev took charge of the combat training and re-equipment program. Although Choe was not on good terms with Kim Il Sung at this time, he was regarded as a superior strategist and administrator. And after being bypassed temporarily, he continued to be respected as a leader by the North Korean army and peasantry.