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N. Korean leader pays tribute to late key missile developer

All Headlines 08:43 September 05, 2018

SEOUL, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has visited the mortuary for a key official who led missile development, the North's state-run media said Wednesday.

Kim paid tribute to Ju Kyu-chang, who died Monday night of pancytopenia at the age of 89, and expressed his condolences to his family, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

He was accompanied by his key munitions developing officials, including Thae Jong-su, Kim Phyong-hae, Ri Pyong-chol, Hong Sung-mu, Hong Yong-chil and Kang Pong-hun, the KCNA said.

Ju, former director of the Machine-Building Industry Department of the Workers' Party of Korea, is known for his deep involvement in the process of the North's long-range missile development.

The U.S. blacklisted Ju in 2013 for his suspected involvement in developing ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

Meanwhile, this marked Kim's first public activity that the North's media has reported since Aug. 21 when he was last seen visiting a medical equipment factory and attending a funeral for former defense chief Kim Yong-chun.

His prolonged absence from public view drew attention, especially as the North's 70th founding anniversary is approaching. Some speculated that he might be focused on preparing for Sunday's event, which will be attended by ranking officials from his friends and allies.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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