South Korean media said on Friday the hermit nation had executed Kim Hyok-chol, its special envoy to the United States, along with a number of foreign ministry workers.
Kim Yong-chol, is also said to have been subjected to forced labour and ideological education, the Chosun Ilbo reported.
The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, is believed to be carrying out a massive purge to divert attention away from internal turmoil and discontent, the newspaper said.
“Kim Hyok-chol was investigated and executed at Mirim Airport with four foreign ministry officials in March,” an unnamed North Korea source told the news outlet.
Kim Hyok Chol had been negotiations counterpart to US special representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun before the summit in Hanoi.
Shin Hye-yong, the interpreter for Kim Jong-un at the meeting, is also said to have been detained in a political prison camp, for undermining the authority of the leader by making a critical interpretation mistake, Chosun reported.
Meanwhile, Mr Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, who aided the leader in Hanoi, is also said to be lying low.
Some previous South Korean reports of North Korean purges and executions have later proved inaccurate.
North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary on Thursday that “Acting like one is revering the Leader in front [of others] but dreaming of something else when one turns around, is an anti-Party, anti-revolutionary act that has thrown away the moral fidelity toward the Leader, and such people will not avoid the stern judgment of the revolution.”
“There are traitors and turncoats who only memorise words of loyalty toward the Leader and even change according to the trend of the time,” the commentary said.
It is the first time since the December 2013 execution of Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong-un’s uncle, that expressions hinting at purging such as “anti-party, anti-revolutionary” and “stern judgment” have appeared in Rodong Sinmun.
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