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Kim Jong Un Pays Respect To North Korea’s Propaganda Chief Who Passes Away

North Korea’s propaganda chief Kim Ki Nam who served all three rulers of the Kim clan has died at the age of 94. State media KCNA showed Kim Jong Un pay his respects by attending his funeral in person and bowing at the funeral bier.

A statement released by the North Korean leader and printed in KCNA stated that Kim Jong Un has expressed his “bitter grief over the loss of a veteran revolutionary who had remained boundlessly loyal” to the regime. A wreath in Kim Jong Un’s name was also “laid before the bier of the deceased,” KCNA said.

Kim Ki Nam is best known for having led North Korea’s key department for propaganda. In the 1970s, he was in charge of Pyongyang’s official mouthpiece, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper. North Korean analysts say that he is responsible for masterminding the cult of the Kim family. The Kim dynasty was established by Pyongyang’s founding leader Kim Il Sung and have ruled for over three generations.

In 2015, images in state media showed Kim Ki Nam, in his 80s at the time, taking notes diligently in front of Kim Jong Un, more than 50 years his junior. South Korean analysts refer to him as North Korea’s “Goebbels.”

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Despite his reputation, Kim Ki Nam was also responsible for organising important visits between North Korean and South Korean leaders. He was said to have played a key role behind the scenes when the then South Korean president Kim Dae-jung made a visit to Pyongyang in 2000, where he met with Kim Jong Il, the predecessor, and father of current leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim Ki Nam was also responsible for leading a North Korean delegation to South Korea to attend the funeral of Seoul’s then president, Kim Dae-jung. During the visit, they laid a wreath signed by Pyongyang’s then-leader Kim Jong Il.

Despite his high standing, Kim Ki Nam’s role as the regime’s chief propagandist was eventually passed on to Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong. She increasingly started coming into the limelight in the late 2010s. Her arrival at the propaganda department as its high-ranking figure took place in 2018, according to Seoul’s unification ministry.

(With inputs from agencies)