Ju Kyu-chang, 89, died Monday night of pancytopenia, according to the Korean Central News Agency. It called him a "revolutionary soldier" who had made a "distinguished" contribution to national defense.
"Letting go of comrade Ju Kyu-chang who had faithfully carried out our party's great tasks at the forefront of national defense is a huge loss not just for our party but also for our people," the KCNA said.
|In a file photo, Ju Kyu-chang (2nd from right) (Yonhap)|
A graduate of North Korea's renowned Kim Chaek University of Technology, Ju had spent much of his career developing weapons.
He was named director of the Machine-Building Industry Department of the Workers' Party of Korea in 2010, which is tasked with nuclear and missile development.
In April 2009, he was seen accompanying then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on his visit to a command center to observe the launch of an Unha-2 rocket. He was also known to deeply involved in developing the upgraded Unha-3 rocket the North test-fired in April and December of 2012.
|Footage from the KCNA news agency shows the Unha-3 rocket launching at North Korea's West Sea Satellite Launch Site in 2012 (Yonhap)|
The US blacklisted Ju in 2013 for his suspected involvement in developing ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
He stepped down from the party department post in May 2015 in a large-scale reshuffle in the communist state's munitions sector. (Yonhap)