Pioneer of NK Studies Dies

Korea Times
Jung Sung-ki
12/4/2007

Kim Chang-soon, director of the Institute for North Korea Studies in Seoul, died of a chronic illness Tuesday. He was 86.

Kim, a former North Korean journalist, has been recognized as the “pioneer” of North Korean studies in South Korea.

Born in Uiju, North Pyeongan Province, he was a journalist in the North before he fled the country about six months into the three-year Korean War in 1950.

Kim was a senior editorial writer for the communist regime’s newspaper, Minju Chosun, and had been once granted the rare opportunity of interviewing the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung.

He said he learned first hand the “deceptive nature” of North Korea’s communism when he was imprisoned on charges of “anti-revolutionary” crimes in 1949.

In the early 1970s, Kim became the chief director of the private North Korean think tank in the South after spending several years with the now-defunct Naewoe Affairs Research Institute run by the Seoul government.

The area of North Korea studies was almost like a “barren land” in South Korea before Kim devoted himself to it as the head of the state-funded institute in 1962.

In an interview with Japan’s Kyodo News in the early 2000s, Kim said his hardships and inhumane treatment in North Korean prisons were almost “beyond description” and it made him become an incisive critic of North Korean communism and its followers.

He is survived by his wife, Jin Yong-joo, and two daughters.

A funeral service will be held at the Asan Medical Center in southern Seoul. His body will be buried at the Tongil Park in Paju near the inter-Korean border today. For more information, call 02-3010-2294.

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