North Korea's state media reported on Wednesday that Kim Yang-gon, the head of the United Front Department, which is responsible for relations with South Korea, died in a traffic accident on Tuesday morning. He will be given a state funeral on 31 December.
North Korea's state-run media centre Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) did not furnish any other detail about the death of the 73-year-old senior official in the Kim Jong-un government.
"He was surely trusted by the Kim family regime," Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, told CNN. "The one who appointed him head of the United Front Department was Kim Jong-il, the father of the current leader. And what we knew was he was really close to young Kim Jong-un."
A senior researcher, Cheong Seong-chang, with South Korean think-tank Sejong Institute, said Yang-gon's death would affect relations between the two countries. "I worry that we cannot avoid long suspension of a dialogue between South and North Korea," he said.
The Kim Jong-il-era politician had been able to disperse tension between Seoul and Pyongyang in August after cross-border firing took place.
Analysts are puzzled by why Gon's death was in a fashion similar to death of officials who have been assassinated, as the veteran politician was close to the family, reports CNN.
He was also in the good books of the supreme leader as he was frequently seen accompanying him on state visits, reported AP.
The state media has adorned Yang-gon with phrases like "closest comrade-in-arms and steadfast revolutionary comrade", whereas the Kim Jong-un's uncle was described as "despicable human scum" when he was executed in 2013.
Yang-gon's absence, analysts say, will be a major setback to talks of a resolution between South and North Korea.