SEOUL, Dec 30 (Reuters) - 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.
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 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.
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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