'Purged' official in tune with Kim

World | ASSOCIATED PRESS 4 Jun 2019

A senior North Korean official who had been reported as being purged over the failed nuclear summit with Washington was shown in state media yesterday enjoying a concert near leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yong Chol was sitting five seats away from a clapping Kim Jong Un in the same row along with other top officials during a musical performance by the wives of Korean People's Army officers.

A report by the official Korean Central News Agency named Kim Yong Chol among the people at the event, which it said "impressively represented the ideological and mental features of KPA officers' wives, who make every moment of their life honorable with ardent yearning for the leader."

Kim Yong Chol has been North Korea's top nuclear negotiator and the counterpart of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo since Kim Jong Un entered nuclear talks with the US early last year. He traveled to Washington and met President Donald Trump twice before Kim's two summits with Trump.

Negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been at a standstill since February when the second summit between Trump and Kim broke down.

Last week, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited an unidentified source in reporting that Kim Yong Chol had been sentenced to hard labor and ideological re-education over the failed summit in Hanoi.

The newspaper also reported that senior envoy Kim Hyok Chol, who was involved in pre-summit working-level talks with American officials, was executed with four other officials from the North's Foreign Ministry for betraying Kim Jong Un after being won over by the United States.

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