North Korea's foreign minister has died, the country's official media reported on Wednesday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il expressed his condolences over the death of Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun, the North's Korean Central News Agency reported.
The one-sentence dispatch did not provide any more details, including when or how he died.
Paek, who was 78, has been the North's top diplomat since 1998. News reports have said he was suffering from an unknown illness.
It was unclear who would succeed him.
Paek graduated from the prestigious Kim-Il Sung University in the showcase capital of Pyongyang, and later participated in Red Cross talks with South Korea in the 1970s.
Diplomatic involvement with South Korea, the North's wealthy neighbor and former battlefield foe, has always been a key to career advancement for North Korean officials.
Paek was also ambassador to Poland.