Kim Jong-Un says farewell to 'most trusted aide' killed in car crash 

North Korean leader has showed a rare glimpse of emotion at the funeral of his ‘closest comrade’ and ‘faithful helper’, who died in an unexplained car crash on Tuesday. 

The usually steely-eyed dictator was pictured touching the face of Kim Yang-Gon, a top party official and key confidante, during his state funeral this morning after describing him as a ‘close comrade-in-arms whom nobody can replace’.

In comes in stark contrast to the deaths of other high-ranking officials, who are denigrated on the pages of state newspapers.

Grief: Kim Jong-Un was pictured showing a rare moment of emotion during the state funeral of Kim Yang-Gon, a top official described as a ‘close comrade-in-arms whom nobody can replace’

Previous death announcements have condemned aides as ‘traitor’ to the nation and derided Jang Song-Thaek as ‘despicable human scum…

worse than a dog’.

Kim Yang-Gon was described in glowing terms by the official news agency KCNA, 

‘He could hardly repress his bitter grief for a long while, his hands put on the cold body of the revolutionary comrade,’ it said.

Killed: Kim Yang-Gon, 73, (pictured) a top aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, has died in a car crash, state news agency KCNA has announced

‘Kim Yang Gon was his faithful helper and close comrade-in-arms whom nobody can replace’, it reported Kim Jong-Un as saying.

North Korea’s state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun also carried a front page picture showing a grieving Kim touching the face of his aide whose remains were laid on a bier decorated with flowers. 

Kim Yang-Gon, 73, who was in charge of ties with South Korea and a secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party, died in a crash on Tuesday, state news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. 

Analysts have said that more foul play in the death of Kim Yang-Gon could not be ruled out, citing possible jealousy among political rivals. 

Impoverished  did not reveal details about the car accident said to have killed Kim Yan-Gong, but the road network is badly maintained and car ownership is rare, yet several high-level officials have died in traffic accidents over the years, often under the influence of alcohol. 

In June 2010, KCNA reported that Ri Je Gang, 80, first vice department director of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, died in a traffic accident.

Ri reportedly bickered with Jang Song Thaek, a powerful uncle of Kim Jong-Un, who was eventually executed by his nephew for alleged treason in 2013. 

In December 2009, the news agency said Ri Chol Bong, 78, chief secretary of the Workers’ Party’s Kangwon provincial committee, died in a traffic accident.

Respect: Kim Jong-Un and his aides bowed deeply in front of the body of Kim Yang-gon as it lies in the mortuary

Jang, the executed uncle of Kim, survived a car accident in September 2009, according to South Korean media reports.

Foreign analysts believe Jang was also purged and sent to a labour camp for two years in the mid-2000s in what was seen as a move by Kim Jong-il, the late father of Kim Jong Un, to clip his wings.

In October 2003, KCNA reported that Kim Yong Sun, a senior North Korean official involved in reconciliation efforts with South Korea, died of injuries sustained in a traffic accident four months earlier.

Kim Yong Sun was a close aide to then-leader Kim Jong-il.

But Kim Jong-il’s military, which traditionally favours a hard-line stance on South Korea, had reportedly tried to hold him in check.


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And in 1976, an official said to be a rival to then-president Kim Il-Sung died in a car crash.

‘North Korea has a long track record of suspicious deaths around high-level officials,’ said North Korea expert Andrei Lankov. 

‘Most die either because they are machine-gunned, or they die in car crashes.

‘There are almost no cars and security for high-officials travelling in cars is extremely tight.

Given that, one is bound to be sceptical about any such report coming from North Korea.’

And Kim Jong-Un has dismissed a string of top aides since he took over when his father died suddenly in 2011. 

When North and South Korea traded artillery fire in August, Kim Yang-Gon was part of a delegation that helped ease a stand-off.

He is pictured (right) with South Korean unification minister Hong Yong-Pyo

In October 2003, KCNA reported that Kim Yong Sun (centre), a senior North Korean official involved in reconciliation efforts with South Korea, died of injuries sustained in a traffic accident four months earlier

Kim Yang-Gon’s death is widely seen as a blow to efforts for dialogue and reconciliation between the rival nations.

When North and South Korea traded artillery fire in August, he was part of a high-level delegation that helped ease a stand-off between the two countries.

KCNA said of the crash: ‘Comrade Kim Yang-Gon, a Workers’ Party secretary and member of the party Central Committee Politbureau…

died in a traffic accident at 6.15am Tuesday at age 73.’  

KCNA hailed him as a faithful revolutionary of late leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il and ‘the dearest and bông gòn chụp ảnh the most trustworthy comrade-in-arms’ of current leader Kim Jong-Un.

His death was a ‘great loss’ to the party and the people, the news agency said, praising him for his ‘admirable loyalty and competence’.

As secretary of the party’s Central Committee and director of the committee’s United Front Department, he had been devoted to achieving the party’s reunification policy, it added.

A career party diplomat, Kim Yang-Gon was known as a key confidante to the leader of the Stalinist state, advising him on inter-Korean relations and more recently on international relations in general.

Loyal: North Korea’s state news agency said Kim Jong-Un (left) would head a state funeral on Thursday for Kim Yang-Gon, who served three generations of the country’s ruling dynasty, including Kim Jong-il (right)

He played a leading role in realising the 2007 summit between then leader Kim Jong-Il and South Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun.

Kim Yang-Gon was the only North Korean official present at their meeting in Pyongyang.

Most recently, he was one of the two top North Korean officials who attended rare high-level talks in August aimed to defuse tensions sparked by a land mine blast near the inter-Korean border which was blamed on North Korea. 

The two Koreas reached a deal on August 25, pulling the Korean peninsula away from the brink of war.

They then vowed to make efforts to promote inter-Korean civilian exchanges.

But subsequent vice ministerial talks this month ended with little progress in resolving pending issues such as the issue of families separated by the division of the Korean peninsula and the 1950-53 Korean War and the resumption of cross-border tours to the North’s scenic Mount Kumgang. 

‘This is going to deliver negative impacts on inter-Korean relations’, professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies said.

He added: ‘In light of the North’s nature, I don’t see anyone who can replace him in his role in daring offer policy ideas and advice to the leader in these fields.’ 

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