08 May 2024, 09:18

Kim Jong Un mourns death of North Korea's former propaganda chief

SEOUL, May 8, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - North Korea's former propaganda chief,
credited with masterminding the personality cult surrounding the ruling Kim
dynasty, has died, state media said Wednesday, with leader Kim Jong Un
photographed bowing at his funeral bier.

Kim Ki Nam died on Tuesday due to old age and "multiple organ dysfunction",
having been treated at a hospital since 2022, the country's official Korean
Central News Agency said. He was 94.

Kim Jong Un visited the funeral hall early Wednesday morning, paid silent
tribute and looked around the bier with "bitter grief over the loss of a
veteran revolutionary who had remained boundlessly loyal" to the regime, KCNA

A wreath in the name of Kim Jong Un was "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, according to the North.

He is credited with masterminding the cult of the Kim family dynasty, and
Pyongyang's state media on Wednesday described him as "a veteran of our Party
and the revolution, a prestigious theoretician and a prominent political

An image released by the Rodong Sinmun showed leader Kim Jong Un, dressed in
a dark suit, solemnly paying his respects alongside high-ranking party and
military officials, in front of what appeared to be a flower-decorated bier.

The Kim dynasty, established by Pyongyang's founding leader Kim Il Sung, has
ruled the impoverished, isolated nation with an iron fist and pervasive
personality cult over three generations.

The family are revered in the North as the "Paektu bloodline", named after
the country's highest mountain and supposed birthplace of the late leader Kim
Jong Il.

In 2015, images in state media showed the late official Kim Ki Nam, in his
80s at the time, taking notes diligently in front of Kim Jong Un, more than
50 years his junior.

- North Korea's 'Goebbels' -

The late Kim Ki Nam "is the North Korean equivalent of Paul Joseph Goebbels,"
Ahn Chan-il, a defector-turned-researcher who runs the World Institute for
North Korea Studies, told AFP, referring to the infamous chief propagandist
for the Nazis.

"It is safe to say that the propaganda and agitation strategies of the Kim
dynasty all came from Kim Ki Nam's mind."

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, 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.

In 2009, Kim Ki Nam led a North Korean delegation to South Korea to attend
the funeral of Seoul's former dovish president, Kim Dae-jung. During the
visit, they laid a wreath signed by Pyongyang's then-leader Kim Jong Il.

Kim Dae-jung in 2000 made a historic visit to Pyongyang, where he met with
Kim Jong Il, the predecessor and father of current leader Kim Jong Un.

During his visit to Seoul in 2009, Kim Ki Nam met with Seoul's then-president
Lee Myung-bak.

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