US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US is looking into a report that North Korea executed a top envoy after the summit between North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump collapsed.
According to the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, Kim Hyok Chol, North Korea’s special envoy to the US, was executed after the summit ended early. The report said he was executed in March for “being recruited by US imperialists and betraying the supreme leader.”
Chosun Ilbo reported that the execution was part of a purge of top officials that saw four other officials executed.
It reported that a senior official was part of Kim’s team for both of his summits with Trump was sentenced to hard labor and ideological “re-education.” The official, Kim Yong Chol, met Trump at the White House in 2018 and was photographed with him.
It also reported that an interpreter from the summit was imprisoned for what the newspaper said was an interpretation error at the February summit. It said that North Korea felt the error “damaged the authority” of Kim.
South Korea said that “it’s inappropriate to make hasty judgments or comments” about the report. There have been cases where South Korean media or intelligence officials said that an individual was executed, only for them to re-emerge months later. But some reports have also been accurate.