Top aide to North Korea leader Kim Jong Un dies in car crash: KCNA

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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, in the latest event to hit the close circle of deputies of the country's leader.

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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.

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Top aide to North Korea leader Kim Jong Un dies in car crash: KCNA
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on December 12, 2015 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the newly renovated May 9 catfish farm at an undisclosed location in North Korea. REPUBLIC KOREA OUT -- AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP / KCNA / KNS (Photo credit should read KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on December 12, 2015 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the newly renovated May 9 catfish farm at an undisclosed location in North Korea. REPUBLIC KOREA OUT -- AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP / KCNA / KNS (Photo credit should read KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on December 12, 2015 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the newly renovated May 9 catfish farm at an undisclosed location in North Korea. REPUBLIC KOREA OUT -- AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP / KCNA / KNS (Photo credit should read KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
FOR USE AS DESIRED, YEAR END PHOTOS - FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at a parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. Kim declared that his country was ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States as he spoke at the lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the North's ruling party and trumpet his third-generation leadership. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at a parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared Saturday that his country was ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States as he spoke at a lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the North's ruling party and trumpet his third-generation leadership. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
In this image taken from video made available on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers an annual New Year's Day message in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim boasted Wednesday that North Korea enters the new year on a surge of strength because of the elimination of "factionalist filth" - a reference to the young leader's once powerful uncle, whose execution last month raised questions about Kim's grip on power. (AP Photo/KRT via AP Video) 
In this image taken from video made available on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers an annual New Year's Day message in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim boasted Wednesday that North Korea enters the new year on a surge of strength because of the elimination of "factionalist filth" - a reference to the young leader's once powerful uncle, whose execution last month raised questions about Kim's grip on power. (AP Photo/KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
A man watches a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. Kim, in a nationally televised New Year's Day speech, says he is open to a summit with his South Korean counterpart. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A man watches a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's New Year speech, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. Kim, in a nationally televised New Year's Day speech, says he is open to a summit with his South Korean counterpart. The letters read: " Kim Jong Un." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
People watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un delivering a speech, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. Kim, in a nationally televised New Year's Day speech, says he is open to a summit with his South Korean counterpart. The letters read: "Meeting." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
** HOLD FOR NORTH KOREA GALLERY ** In this July 27, 2013 file photo, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un waves to spectators and participants of a mass military parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea. If the U.S. government’s claim that North Korea was involved in the unprecedented hack attack on Sony Pictures that scuttled Seth Rogen’s latest comedy is correct, no one can say they weren’t warned. The movie, “The Interview,” pushed all of North Korea’s buttons. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
Travellers walk past a television screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's New Year speech, at a railroad station in Seoul on January 1, 2015. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said he was open to the 'highest-level' talks with South Korea as he called for an improvement in strained cross-border relations. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo taken on April 15, 2012, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae salute during a mass military parade in Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate the centenary of the birth of his grandfather, national founder Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT
KIM JONG-UN Leader of North Korea at plenary meeting of the central committee of the Worker's Party in Pyongyang in March 2013
In this Wednesday, April 9, 2014 image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un holds up parliament membership certificate during the Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea's newly-selected parliament met for the first time on Wednesday in Pyongyang. It was the first time that North Korea has reassembled its parliament under new leader Kim. (AP Photo/KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
In this photo taken on April 15, 2012, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, speaks with Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae during a mass military parade in Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate the centenary of the birth of his grandfather, national founder Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT
In this image taken from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends an event to mark the second anniversary of the death of his father, former leader Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang, North Korea Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
FILE - In this July 27, 2013 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leans over a balcony and waves to Korean War veterans cheering below at the end of a mass military parade on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. Japan and North Korea appear to be on the verge of a breakthrough on a bizarre legacy of the Cold War, a secret, government-ordered program that led to the abduction of more than a dozen and possibly several hundred Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s by North Korean infiltrators and spies. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)
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Kim as the top official managing ties with the South 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 work to hold more discussions to improve ties.

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KCNA said Kim died on Tuesday in an automobile accident at the age of 73. It gave no details of the accident.

The North's leader Kim Jong Un has dismissed a string of aides in top positions since he took over when his father died suddenly in 2011.

In 2013, he purged and executed his uncle Jang Song Thaek, who was once considered the second most powerful man in the country for "anti-revolutionary crimes."

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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