North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has carried out a purge of his top nuclear arms negotiating team. Getting reliable information from North Korea is always difficult but the AP writes:
A South Korean newspaper reported Friday that North Korea executed a senior envoy involved in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. as well as four other high-level officials. But as ever with North Korea, a country that closely guards its secrets, there are reasons to be cautious about the purported purge.
The New York Times adds that according to the report, “Kim Hyok-chol, the envoy, was executed by firing squad.” And, in addition to the other executions, at least one other man may have been sentenced to hard labor.
Chosun Ilbo, the South Korean newspaper, reported Friday that Kim Yong-chol, a senior Workers’ Party vice chairman who visited the White House as the main point man for diplomacy with the United States, had also been purged, sentenced to forced labor in a remote northern province.
Kim Yong-chol is someone both Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have personally worked with and even hosted at the White House.
It’s important to note that the report had not been verified by any other source, but according to the Daily Beast Pompeo said, “We’ve seen the reporting to which you are referring… We’re doing our best to check it out. I don’t have anything else to add to that today.”
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) is one of those speaking out about this report today saying, “North Korea is murdering politicians left and right under the cover of praise from the American President.”
Why was Kim Hyok Chol executed? According to the Reuters report: “He 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.“