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Kim Ki-Nam, Chief Propagandist in North Korea for Decades, Dies at 94

Kim Ki-nam, who was often called “North Korea’s Goebbels,” a reference to the Nazi propagandist, because of his role in manufacturing and enforcing totalitarian propaganda for all three generations of the country’s ruling Kim family, has died at 94, North Korean state media reported on Wednesday.

Mr. Kim, who was not related to the North Korean dictators, died on Tuesday of multiple organ failures after having been sick for a year, according to the reports. It was not immediately clear where he had died.

Mr. Kim’s tenure as the leader of North Korea’s propaganda apparatus extended from the days of Kim Il-sung, who founded the country at the end of World War II, to 2017.

Propaganda is central to the Kim family’s Stalinist grip on power. The daily coverage of North Korea’s news media, all state-controlled, brims with propaganda designed to keep its 26 million people in the thrall of a personality cult surrounding the ruling family.

All North Koreans are required to wear lapel pins bearing the images of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, the grandfather and father of the current leader, Kim Jong-un. Their portraits hang on the wall of every home and every office building. In school textbooks and TV cartoons, the leaders are depicted as capable of turning tree leaves into boats and pine cones into grenades. In every North Korean town, ubiquitous posters and slogans warn of a coming invasion of “American imperialists” and exhort people to turn themselves into “guns and bombs” to defend the Kim family.

Kim Ki-nam earned comparisons to Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s propaganda minister.Credit…Ahn Young-Joon/Associated Press

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