Jo Myong-rok (July 12th, 1928 – November 6th, 2010), also romanised as Jo Myong Rok, was a member of the North Korean military. He held the North Korean military rank Chasu (Vice Marshal). In 2009, he was appointed First Vice-Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Director of the Korean People's Army General Political Bureau. In the past, he was the commander of the air defense forces.
Myong-rok was born in Yonsa County, North Hamgyong province, on July 12th, 1928 and he joined the Korean People's Army in December 1950. He was a graduate of the Manchuria Aviation School and Soviet Air Academy.
After serving as a pilot in the Korean War, Myong-rok was promoted to major general in 1954 and lieutenant general in 1976. Meanwhile, he held other important posts, such as commanding officer of Pyongyang's Air Defence Command (1975 – 1977), and commanding officer of the KPA Air Force from 1977 till 1995.
At the 6th Party Congress in 1980, Myong-rok was elected both member of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (of which he had been an alternate member since 1975) and its Military Commission. In the 1990s, he saw a huge increase of his importance: in 1992 he was promoted to general; in 1994, he was part of Kim Il-sung's funeral committee; in 1995 he was promoted to Vice Marshal and director of the KPA General Political Bureau.
He made a key speech commemorating the third anniversary of Il-sung's death in special ceremonies on July 8, 1997. By 1998, when he was also appointed to the position of First Vice Chairman of the National Defence Commission, he was the second most powerful person in the country, ranking immediately beneath Kim Jong-il himself.
In 2000, he traveled to Washington D.C. on a goodwill mission.
On November 6th, 2010, Myong-rok died of a heart attack at the age of 82, 1 month after he was elected as member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau. His funeral committee was chaired by Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un.
Against expectations, his successor wasn't elected at the 4th Session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly in April 2011. There was speculation that Jong-il was deliberately leaving the post vacant in order to promote Jong-un when he was ready.