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Kim Ki Nam, former North Korean propaganda master, dies

North Korea's former propaganda chief, Kim Ki Nam, considered as the mastermind behind the cult of personality. around the Kim dynasty, died Tuesday à at the age of 94, announced Wednesday the official KCNA agency.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un silently mourned early Wednesday morning in front of the coffin “with bitter grief at the loss of a veteran revolutionary who remained unwaveringly loyal” to the regime, KCNA reported .

Kim Ki Nam, hospitalized since 2022, died due to his old age and “multiple organ dysfunction”, the agency said.

Kim Ki Nam is best known for heading North Korea's Agitation and Propaganda Department from 1989 to 2017, after serving as the newspaper's editor-in-chief of State Rodong Sinmun in the 1970s. He also served as vice-chairman of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and ambassador to Beijing in the 1950s.

< p>After studying in the Soviet Union, he began his career under Kim Il Sung, in power in Pyongyang from the end of the Japanese occupation in 1948 until his death in 1994, and was considered a close friend of his son and successor Kim Jong Il (1994-2011), the father of Kim Jong Un.

– “North Korean Goebbels” –

He was the author of the main slogans of the regime and the speeches of its leaders. He is also considered the architect of the personality cult established around the Kim dynasty, which has ruled North Korea with an iron fist for three generations. He had actively supported the hereditary transmission of power from Kim Il Sung to Kim Jong Il, then to Kim Jong Un.

Kim Ki Nam, former North Korean propaganda master, dies

North Koreans bow in front of a mosaic depicting leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, July 8, 2021 in Pyongyang. © AFP – KIM Won Jin

The Kim family is revered quasi-religiously in North Korea as the “Paektu Lineage”, named after the highest mountain in the country, officially the birthplace of Kim Jong Il.

Kim Ki Nam “is the North Korean equivalent of Paul Joseph Goebbels”, the head of Nazi propaganda, Ahn Chan-il, head of the Global Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul.

“We can say with certainty that all the propaganda and agitation strategies of the Kim dynasty germinated in his brain,” added this researcher, a former North Korean defector.

– “Veteran of the revolution” –

KCNA described him on Wednesday as “a veteran of our party and the revolution, a prestigious theoretician and an activist leading politician”.

In 2015, images broadcast by state media showed the late high-ranking official, in his eighties at the time, taking notes diligently in front of Kim Jong Un, around fifty years his junior.

Kim Ki Nam, former North Korean propaganda master, dies

An image published Wednesday by Rodong Sinmun shows Kim Jong Un, dressed in a dark suit, paying tribute alongside senior party and military officials in front of a coffin decorated with flowers, while 'a military orchestra plays in the back of the room.

After the retirement of Kim Ki Nam, the role of grand propaganda chief of the regime had finally been passed to Kim Jong Un's powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, in 2018.

In 2009, Kim Ki Nam led a North Korean delegation to South Korea to attend the funeral of former President Kim Dae-jung, a supporter of dialogue with the North and who had made a historic visit to Pyongyang in 2000. On this occasion, he met the president in office in Seoul Lee Myung-bak.

He had been under sanctions from the United States Treasury Department since 2016, along with Kim Jong Un and other leaders, “for their links with the notorious human rights violations in North Korea.”

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116