A North Korean envoy said to have been executed after the breakdown of talks with the US is actually still alive, a new report claims.
There have been conflicting reports in the past week about the fate of the North Korean team that steered negotiations with the United States, following a failed summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump in February.
A South Korean newspaper originally claimed nuclear envoy Kim Hyok-chol was killed after the Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam, which he was in charge of, ended prematurely.
Hyok-chol was said to have been put to death at Mirim Airfield after he and four other officials were charged with spying for the US, according to an article published in the Chosun Ilbo.
But now US news network CNN claims the diplomat is actually still alive and in custody, citing multiple sources.
The CNN journalist behind the latest story claims one source told him the Chosun Ilbo's report was 'wrong' and that Hyok-chol's fate has yet to be decided.
He could still face "heavy punishment" though, it added.
The original story was called into question after one of the North Korean diplomats it said had been sent to a labour camp appeared in public.
Kim Yong-chol, described as Kim Jong Un's right-hand man, was seen sitting near the North Korean leader on Sunday.
The powerful sister of Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, also made an appearance at the country's mass games, despite the Chosun Ilbo reporting she had been told to lie low.
Kim Sung-hye, co-negotiator at the talks, and Shin Hye-yong, who interpreted for North Korea's leader in Hanoi, were also sent to political prison camps, according to the original report.
It was said that Hye-yong was accused of undermining the authority of Kim Jong Un by making a translation mistake.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the country was looking into the execution reports.
Discussing the Chosun Ilbo article at a news conference on Friday, he said: “We’ve seen the reporting to which you are referring.
“We’re doing our best to check it out."
Source: Read Full Article