July 04, 2022

Pang Hak Se: the father of the North Korean secret police

Mysterious official's long tenure provides clues of DPRK system under Kim Il Sung

Few people in North Korean history are as mysterious as Pang Hak Se (방학세/方學世). He was, arguably, the key figure in the creation of the secret police apparatus of the North in the 1940s. Pang is also the only known head of the DPRK secret police to die a natural death.

There is very little known about him. A secret police officer - especially a high-ranking one - usually does his best to cover their tracks. No detailed biography of Pang Hak Se has ever been compiled - and even his photos were quite hard to find.