North Korean leader Kim Jong-un commemorates death of chief propagandist

Kim Jong-un attends Kim Ki-nam's state funeral.
Kim Jong-un attends Kim Ki-nam's state funeral. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Angela Skujins
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Kim Ki-nam led the effort to prop up North Korea's totalitarian dynasty with powerful cults of personality.


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended the funeral service for a North Korea propaganda chief who has been likened to Nazi Germany’s Joseph Goebbels. 

Kim Ki-nam, who played a key role in building personality cults around the country’s three dynastic leaders, died earlier this week at 94 after being treated for age-related illnesses and multiple organ failures, according to state media.

Unrelated to the Kims who have ruled the country since 1948, he worked with the North Korean government for at least 50 years, and became the  Propaganda and Agitation Department deputy director in 1966.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA, said Kim Jong-un visited the body of the longtime propagandist at a funeral hall in the country's capital of Pyongyang on Wednesday, and led the state funeral committee on Thursday.

A still from the Korean Central News Agency broadcasted funeral of North Korea's chief propagandist, Kim Ki Nam, on April 9, 2024.
A still from the Korean Central News Agency broadcasted funeral of North Korea's chief propagandist, Kim Ki Nam, on April 9, 2024.AP Photo

KCNA said the former secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee "devoted his all to the sacred struggle for defending and strengthening the ideological purity of our revolution". 

The agency credited him with "firmly guaranteeing the steady victory of the socialist cause”.

North Korea's tightly controlled media

North Korea has been largely sealed off from the rest of the world since the end of the Cold War, its relationships with Russia and China proving to be lifelines as it pursued an often ruinous economic path and a nuclear weapons programme in the face of massive sanctions.

In 2014 the United Nations Commission of Inquiry issued a report outlining the North Korean government’s long record of human rights abuses, claiming they amount to crimes against humanity.

One of the most notable devices with which the North Korean government controls its constituents is through a tightly controlled press. 

In 2020, a new "Reactionary Ideology and Culture Rejection Law" banned “anti-socialist ideology and culture" spanning South Korean news, films, books and other unauthorised sanctioned content.

If found guilty of possessing or sharing such content, individuals face 10 years in a forced labour camp.

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