North Korea (Wire)

N.K. leader offers condolences to his key aide’s death

SEOUL, Dec. 31 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has offered “profound” condolences over the death of his key aide who handled inter-Korean affairs, Pyongyang’s state media said Thursday.

On Wednesday, Kim visited the mortuary of Kim Yang-gon, a secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, who died on Tuesday in a car accident, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea held a state funeral for Kim, who is called “the closest comrade-in-arms” of the North Korean leader, earlier in the day.

The KCNA said the North’s leader Kim could hardly “repress his bitter grief” for long, saying that his death is a “great loss” to the country, the KCNA said.

North Korea and the party will “always remember” the life of Kim who remained “boundlessly loyal to the party and the revolution with steadfast faith in the justice of his cause,” it added.

Kim Yang-gon was one of the two ranking North Korean officials who attended the rare inter-Korean high-level talks in August following heightened tensions sparked by a land mine blast near the inter-Korean border blamed on North Korea.

The two Koreas reached a rare deal on Aug. 25 to defuse military tensions and make efforts to promote inter-Korean civilian exchanges.

In 2007, he was named the head of the party’s United Front Department, which manages Pyongyang’s relations with Seoul under the regime of Kim Jong-il, the father of the North’s current leader, who died in late 2011.

He also contributed to realizing an inter-Korean summit held between Kim Jong-il and then-South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in October of that year.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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