A report that several North Korean officials were executed over the failed February summit between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump in Hanoi had spread like wildfire in Western media, until one of them turned up alive.
South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported last week that nuclear envoy Kim Hyok-chol had been executed and former spy chief Kim Yong-chol sent to a labor camp, because Trump had walked out of peace talks in Hanoi and rejected North Korean requests for limited sanctions relief.
The report spread far and wide, shared as proof that Trumps diplomacy with Kim had failed. With Pyongyang tight-lipped as usual, the fate of the officials remained shrouded in mystery and the subject of breathless speculation.
High-level North Korean defectors say multiple diplomats were executed in March, while other senior officials have been demoted or purged https://t.co/pe6HkIAo2w
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) May 31, 2019
Holy crap. North Korean envoy Kim Hyok Chol was reportedly executed over the failed summit between Kim Jong Un & Trump. Four other NK foreign ministry officials were reportedly executed, too, and a top aide for Kim Jong Un was punished with hard labor. https://t.co/4r8Xfu1RSf
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) May 30, 2019
South Korean paper reports Kim Jong Un has executed top envoy in wake of Hanoi summit collapse. If true, another stark reminder of brutality of the North Korean leader Trump has sided with over Biden, US intel agencies, Bolton, Shinzo Abe and Warmbier. https://t.co/ImcDC20khL
— David Nakamura (@DavidNakamura) May 30, 2019
On Tuesday, however, CNN reported that Kim Hyok-chol is in fact alive. Reporter Will Ripley cited anonymous sources to say that the official remains in custody and under investigation for his role in the failed summit, and could still face “heavy punishment.”
#breaking CNN EXCLUSIVE: Sources: Executed North Korean special envoy to the US, Kim Hyok Chol, is still alive and remains in custody and under investigation for his role in the failed Hanoi summit, several sources familiar with the situation tell me.
— Will Ripley (@willripleyCNN) June 4, 2019
Another negotiator, Kim Song-hye, and translator Sin Hye-yong are also in custody, Ripleys sources said.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Mnday that Kim Yong-chol had attended a concert the day before, with a photo of the official seated in the same row as Kim Jong-un. Ripleys source said the former spy chief was beingRead More – Source