North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly executed his special envoy on nuclear talks with the United States in the wake of a failed summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February.
Envoy Kim Hyok Chol and four unidentified Foreign Ministry employees were executed in March at Pyongyang’s Mirim Airport after being accused of spying for the United States, according to the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.
The paper cited an unidentified North Korean source.
“[Kim Hyok Chol] was accused of spying for the United States for poorly reporting on the negotiations without properly grasping U.S. intentions,” the source was quoted as saying.
In addition, Kim Yong Chol, the counterpart to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the nuclear talks, has been sent to a labor and “reeducation” camp in the northern part of the country, the daily reported.
The moves were apparently part of a sweeping purge of officials involved in the negotiations, several of whom have not been heard from since the summit.
Trump has made the negotiations with North Korea a centerpiece of his foreign policy and has repeatedly made approving statements about Kim Jong Un.
During a visit to Japan on May 26, Trump posted on Twitter that “North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me.”
The post came shortly after the State Department said the May 4 and May 9 short-range missile tests violated UN Security Council resolutions.
Trump also expressed a willingness to hold a third summit with Kim in an effort to restrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs in exchange for sanctions relief.