State funeral committee for Kim Yang Gon, Kim Jong Un’s close aide

State funeral committee for Kim Yang Gon, Kim Jong Un’s close aide

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The name of senior North Korean official Choe Ryong Hae was listed among the state funeral committee for Kim Yang Gon, the Korean Central News Agency revealed Wednesday, marking the end of a more-than-two-month absence.
Kim Yang Gon, director of North Korea’s United Front Department, died in a road accident, North Korean state media outlet the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Wednesday morning, NK News reported.Yi Whan-woo of The Korean Times adds: Kim was one of the four high-ranking officials from the two Koreas when they reached a landmark agreement on Aug. 25 to defuse military tension following the explosion of North Korean landmines in the South’s side of the Demilitarized Zone in early August.
Won Dong-yeon, a co-deputy director of Pyongyang’s United Front Department (UFD), is seen as a possible candidate to replace Kim who led the UFD.
Won has worked under Kim for years at the UFD, which handles issues on Seoul-Pyongyang ties. He attended several high-level talks between the two countries, including one in February 2014.
Maeng Kyong-il, also a co-deputy director at the UFD, is expected to compete for the UFD’s top post against Won.
Along with the UFD, the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea has been a key organ in dealing with inter-Korean affairs.
The committee’s vice director of the secretariat Jon Jong-su is also seen as a favorite to be Kim’s successor.
Jon has joined a string of high-level dialogues between South and North Korea since 2002.
He led the Pyongyang delegation on Dec. 11 when the two sides held vice ministerial talks to discuss key pending issues at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in North Korea.
This was the first round of vice ministerial talks in line with an Aug. 25 agreement.
He insisted on Pyongyang’s demands that Seoul should resume the suspended tour program to the Mount Geumgang resort in the North. The tour was a major source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped regime.
Meanwhile, analysts speculate that none of the three possible candidates ― Won, Maeng and Jon ― are experienced enough to replace Kim.

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