Kim Jong-un is believed to have executed his envoy to the U.S. by firing squad for ‘betraying the supreme leader’ over the failed Hanoi summit in a purge of four other officials.
Kim Hyok Chol, who accompanied Kim on his private train as nuclear envoy at the Vietnam summit with President Donald Trump, was shot for being ‘won over to the US,’ during the nuclear negotiations, Chosun Ilbo reported.
Kim Hyok Chol was executed in March at Mirim Airport along with four senior foreign ministry officials following an investigation,’ the newspaper quoted an unidentified source as saying.
The other officials were not named, but all allegedly became U.S. ‘spies.’
Another senior official, Kim Yong Chol, who had been in nuclear discussions with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was sent to a forced labour camp for ideological re-education.
Kim Hyok Chol, North Korea’s special representative for U.S. affairs, was reportedly executed by firing squad after he allegedly became a ‘spy’ for the US
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s counterpart Kim Yong Chol (left), President Donald Trump, and Kim Song Hye (right) who worked alongside Chol in Hanoi were both sent to forced labour camps for ideological re-education
Kim Song Hye, a woman who worked with Kim Hyok Chol in talks with Pompeo was reportedly sent to another prison camp.
The paper also said Kim Jong Un’s interpreter Shin Hye Yong was sent to a prison camp for a mistake at the summit.
She failed to translate Kim’s new proposal when Trump declared ‘no deal’ and walked away from the table, Chosun reported, citing another unnamed diplomatic source.
Kim Hyok Chol was the North’s counterpart of U.S. nuclear envoy Stephen Biegun in the run-up to the Hanoi summit in February.
‘He was accused of spying for the United States for poorly reporting on the negotiations without properly grasping U.S. intentions,’ the source was quoted as saying.
Kim Hyok Chol was seen as a rising star but little was known about his expertise or the role he undertook during those talks.
The other four executed alongside him included diplomats working on Vietnam relations, the Chosun report said.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, declined to comment on the report.
Some previous South Korean reports of North Korean purges and executions have later proved inaccurate.
Kim Jong Un and Trump left the Vietnamese capital without a deal after they failed to reach agreement on rolling back Pyongyang’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
Kim Yong Chol, one of Kim Jong-un’s closest aides and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s counterpart in crucial nuclear talks was sent to a forced labour camp to receive ideological re-education (pictured with Trump in June 2018 at the White House)
The North Korean leader is believed to be carrying out a massive purge to divert attention away from internal turmoil and discontent following the failed summit with President Trump
The North has since sought to raise the pressure and carried out two short-range missile tests in May.
In April, South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee said Kim Yong Chol had been censured over his handling of the Hanoi summit, despite the fact he had recently been named a member of the State Affairs Commission, a supreme governing body chaired by Kim Jong Un.
The Chosun Ilbo itself incorrectly reported in 2013 that Hyon Song Wol, head of the North’s Samjiyon Orchestra, was executed by firing squad for distributing and watching pornographic content.
And the Unification Ministry also mistakenly announced in February 2016 that Ri Yong Gil, chief of the general staff of the North Korean People’s Army, had been executed.
News of the reported purge came as North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, mouthpiece of the ruling party, Thursday warned that officials who committed anti-party or anti-revolutionary acts would face the ‘stern judgement of the revolution’.