By Kim Sue-young
Former North Korean
A former North Korean vice president and aide to late North Korea founder Kim Il-sung has died of chronic disease, state media reported late Wednesday.
Pak Song-chol who died at the age of 95 Wednesday, was a member of the Political Bureau of the Central committee of the ruling Workers' Party and vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
He is considered a key figure behind the North-South Joint Statement declared July 4, 1972
His state funeral took place early Thursday with the participation of nominal leader Kim Yong-nam and 65 other top officials.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il who allegedly suffered a stroke around early September, failed to make a public appearance.
Born in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province which now belongs to South Korea, the former official was dubbed ``first generation for revolution'' as he took part in Kim Il-sung's campaign to liberate Korea from Japanese colonial rule in the 1930s.
After Korea was set free, Pak worked in political parties, the military and government. He also served as ambassador to Bulgaria and director of the international department of the Communist Party.
His other key posts included foreign minister, premier and state vice president.
He made an unofficial visit to Seoul to discuss inter-Korean exchanges with then South Korean President Park Chung-hee in December, 1972 in accordance with the joint statement which promised peaceful pursuit of unification of the Korean Peninsula.
Before he retired from public service in 1998, he was an influential figure, listed fifth for the North's state funeral committee for Kim Il-sung in 1994 and fourth at the funeral of O Jin-wu, a former military leader a year later.
After retirement, he was appointed an honorary vice chairman of the presidium.
``Pak was a faithful revolutionary warrior who devoted his life to national liberation, working class liberation and communist state construction and independent reunification under the Kim Il-sung's leadership,'' the North Korean media said.