'North Korea's Goebbels' Kim Ki-Nam dies at 94

'North Korea's Goebbels' Kim Ki-Nam dies at 94
Image source: Reuters

Pyongyang, North Korea: Kim Ki-Nam, who was often referred to as 'North Korea's Goebbels', a comparison drawn from the Nazi propaganda minister, passed away at the age of 94, the North Korean state media reported on Wednesday.

Kim, who manufactured and enforced totalitarian propaganda for all three generations of the ruling Kim family, succumbed to multiple organ failures after a year-long illness, according to the state media. The exact location of his passing remains undisclosed.

Kim Ki-Nam's legacy as the architect of North Korea's propaganda machinery traces back to the era of Kim Il-sung, the country's founding leader, and persisted until 2017, The New York Times reported.

Propaganda stands as a cornerstone of the Kim dynasty's totalitarian rule, saturating the daily narrative of North Korean media, entirely under state control, aimed at perpetuating a cult of personality surrounding the ruling family amongst its 26 million citizens, the NYT added.

The mandatory donning of lapel pins with photos of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, the grandfather and father of the current leader, Kim Jong-un, epitomises the extent of propaganda enforcement. Portraits of these leaders adorn every household and office space, the report stated.

Within school materials and televised content, the leaders are portrayed with fantastical abilities, such as transforming leaves into boats and pine cones into explosives, the NYT reported, adding that throughout North Korean towns, ubiquitous posters and slogans warn of an imminent invasion by 'American imperialists', urging citizens to transform into 'guns and bombs' to safeguard the Kim family's reign.

Such orchestrations were the handiwork of Kim Ki-Nam, earning him comparisons to Joseph Goebbels, the infamous propagandist of Nazi Germany.

Kim Ki-Nam belonged to the dwindling cadre of nonagenarian officials who survived numerous purges while serving the Kim family over three generations. He maintained a close relationship with Kim Jong-il, often attending the leader's late-night gatherings, as noted by North Korean experts.

During his visit to Seoul in 2005, Kim Ki-Nam marked history as the first North Korean official to pay respects at the South Korean national cemetery, a gesture indicative of Kim Jong-il's endorsement. Additionally, he led a North Korean delegation to Seoul in 2009 to convey condolences on the passing of Kim Dae-Jung, the former South Korean president who orchestrated the first inter-Korean summit with Kim Jong-il in 2000, the NYT report added.

Kim Ki-Nam was among the select few Workers' Party officials and People's Army generals who accompanied Kim Jong-un in escorting the bier of Kim Jong-il following his demise in 2011.

He earned Kim Jong-un's trust by aiding the young leader in consolidating his domestic authority following his father's death.

Kim Jong-un paid respects at Kim Ki-Nam's bier early Wednesday and paid his tributes. The government's Korean Central News Agency said he did so "with bitter grief over the loss of a veteran revolutionary who, as a competent official in the party's ideological field, had remained boundlessly loyal."