In Brief

North Korea ‘executed officials’ after failed Trump summit

Report claims Kim Jong Un launched purge after nuclear talks broke down

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North Korea executed a number of senior officials involved in failed talks with the US in February, according to a report.

The Choson Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, said Kim Hyok Chol, the special North Korean envoy to the US, and other officials were held responsible by Pyongyang for the summit’s collapse and killed as part of a massive purge in March. 

Another senior official, Kim Yong Chol – who co-ordinated with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ahead of the summit – is reported to have been subjected to forced labour and ideological education. Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong, who attended the summit is said to be “lying low”.

A source told the newspaper: “Kim Hyok Chol was investigated and executed at Mirim airport with four foreign ministry officials in March.”

North Korea has neither confirmed nor denied the executions, but the state newspaper Rodong Sinmun spoke of “traitors and turncoats” in a commentary yesterday.

It said: “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.”

It is believed the executions were carried out by firing squad. The Chosun Ilbo claims that Kim launched a purge of senior officials to divert attention from internal turmoil and discontent. 

Sky News points out that a recent UN report claims the country's population is living in a "vicious cycle of deprivation, corruption and repression".

The Guardian notes that the North Korean leader has instigated several high-profile purges since he took over in 2011.

In 2016, he ordered the execution of Ri Yong Jin, a senior official in the education ministry, for falling asleep during a meeting chaired by the North Korean leader.

The previous year, Hyon Yong Chol, a former defence chief, was reportedly executed with an anti-aircraft gun, for dozing during a military rally attended by Kim.

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