North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended Sunday the funeral of the country's aviation chief, mourning the loss of the official in charge of the country's controversial airlines, according to the government-controlled Korean Central News Agency.
Kim, who last month entered his sixth year of power as the world's youngest head of state, attended the ceremony in honor of Kang Ki Sop, director of North Korea's General Administration of Civil Aviation, to share his condolences. The leader, who was reportedly accompanied by top North Korean officials Hwang Pyong So, Choe Ryong Hae and Ri Myong Su, reportedly placed a wreath at the coffin's side and stroked the face of the deceased Kang, whom state-run news warmly praised.
"Comrade Kang Ki Sop had such a thirst for his work, exhibited deep responsibility and proved himself a revolutionary warrior who is infinitely loyal to our party," state news reported, according to UPI.
Kang, whose cause of death was not revealed, was also reportedly an alternate member of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, to which he was elected in May 2016, and deputy to the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea. He oversaw the country's state-run carrier Koryo Air, which serviced 23 locations in several countries including China, Russia and Kuwait, according to a 2015 article in the Telegraph.
The U.K.-based airline reviews company Skytrax gave the airline a 1 out of 10 rating, citing its poor website and aging aircraft. Some passengers disagreed with this evaluation, defending its modest services. Air Koryo currently boasts a rating of 6 stars on Skytrax's customer review site. The in-flight meals have also gained notoriety.
While many officials receive state funerals and wreaths bearing Kim's name, the leader is not always reported as attending the ceremonies. In December 2015, Kim notably bid farewell personally to senior party official Kim Yang Gon, who was killed in a car crash, according to state media. Kim Jong Un then too displayed physical affection for the late official, described by state media as a "close comrade-in-arms whom nobody can replace," according to Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah.