Highlights

  • Kim Jong attends funeral without wearing mask
  • Kim's mentor Chol Hae has passed away
  • 2.8 million people have fallen ill due to an unidentified fever

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State media photos showed a bare-faced Kim carrying Hyon's coffin with other men wearing masks before the burial at the national cemetery.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attended a mass funeral for a top official, state media reported Monday.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Kim attended the funeral Sunday of Hyon Chol Hae, a Korean People's Army marshal who reportedly played a key role in grooming him as the country's next leader before Kim's father died in late 2011.

Also watch: Covid-19 outbreak: here's what North Koreans have been told by Kim Jong Un regime

State media photos showed a bare-faced Kim carrying Hyon's coffin with other men wearing masks before the burial at the national cemetery.

State TV showed video of Kim being handed a shovel at the cemetery before he cast it aside and bent down to use his bare hands to sprinkle earth over the coffin.

KCNA said "a great many" soldiers and citizens earlier turned out along streets to express their condolences when Hyon's coffin was moved to the cemetery.

North Korea has maintained the much-disputed claim that its suspected coronavirus outbreak is subsiding.

Since admitting to an outbreak of the omicron variant earlier this month, North Korea has only stated how many people have fevers daily, and has only identified a few of the cases as COVID-19.

Its state media said Monday that 2.8 million people have fallen ill due to an unidentified fever but only 68 of them died since late April, an extremely low fatality rate if the illness is COVID-19 as suspected.

North Korea has limited testing capability for that many sick people, but some experts say it is also likely underreporting mortalities to protect Kim from political damage.

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