North Korean military leader Jo Myong Rok dies at age 82

Sunday, November 7, 2010

North Korean Coat of Arms

One of North Korea's leading military officers Jo Myong Rok has died at the age of 82. Jo's death was announced by North Korea's official news agency, which gave the cause of death as heart disease. Jo was the vice marshal of the Korean People's Army, holding the post from 1995 until his death. This made him the military's second-highest officer.

A former fighter pilot for the North Korean army, Jo served in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. After rising through the ranks he became the first vice marshal in 1995. In 2000 he became the first ever North Korean military official to enter the Pentagon when he met with then Defense Secretary William Cohen, and President Bill Clinton.

Jo was a loyal follower of Kim Jong Il. The Korean Central News Agency said in his obituary that he "devoted his whole life to the sacred struggle for the freedom and independence of the country and the victory of the cause of socialism."

It has been announced that a state funeral has been planned for Wednesday.