North Korea says top official Kim Yang-gon killed in car crash

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North Korean team (left to right): Kim Yang Gon, Hwang Pyong-so and Choe Ryong-hae in Incheon, South KoreaImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Kim Yang-gon (left) regularly took part in talks with the South

A top aide to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has died in a car crash, state news agency KCNA has said.

Kim Yang-gon, 73, was a secretary of the ruling Workers' Party and was in charge of ties with South Korea.

He was part of a high-level delegation from North Korea that helped ease a stand-off with the South in August, after an exchange of artillery fire.

The state news agency called him Kim Jong-un's "closest comrade and a solid revolutionary partner".

"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 said, without giving details.

It added that Kim Jong-un would lead an 80-member state funeral for Mr Kim on Thursday.

Tension between North and South Korea increased in August when a border blast injured two South Korean soldiers.

Meetings at that time eventually led to the two countries stepping away from a military confrontation.