A senior North Korean ruling party official and a top aide to leader Kim Jong Un has died in a car accident, the state news agency reported on Wednesday, the latest dramatic demise in the close circle of deputies to the country's leader.
Kim Yang Gon, who was a secretary of the Workers' Party and the head of its United Front Department, the unit that handles the North's ties with South Korea, was Kim Jong Un's "closest comrade, a solid revolutionary partner", KCNA said.
Kim was part of a high-level delegation that held talks in August after the rival states exchanged artillery fire, raising tensions to one of its highest points in recent years.
Those talks produced an agreement that ended the standoff and for the two sides to reopen dialogue to improve ties.
Kim had grown visibly closer to Kim Jong Un recently, appearing alongside the young leader at various farm and factory inspections and diplomatic meetings.