North Korea’s ‘Executed’ Nuclear Envoy Is Alive, CNN Says

North Korea’s ‘Executed’ Nuclear Envoy Is Alive, CNN Says

North Korea's state media on Tuesday showed Kim Yo Jong clapping aside her brother, his wife and other top officials at the 150,000-seat May Day Stadium, where thousands of gymnasts, dancers and flip-card-wielding spectators worked in precise unison to perform "The Land of the People".

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea's former top nuclear envoy, Kim Yong Chol, accompanied leader Kim Jong Un to an art performance, state news agency KCNA said on Monday, signaling that the former spymaster is alive and remains a force in the power structure.

Before Kim Yong-chol vanished amid reports that he had been sent to a reeducation camp, he was listed ahead of other key officials, a security official here said, adding, "This time he was listed at the end, which implies how his status has dropped since the Hanoi summit".

Kim Yo-jong is a senior official of North Korea's ruling party and is believed to be her brother's closest confidant.

"He is not senior enough to make such a judgment", Chun Yungwoo, South Korea's former top envoy to worldwide nuclear talks with North Korea, said before the CNN report.

North Korea warned the United States that agreements made between the two countries' leaders in Singapore previous year could be at risk, blaming the United States for undue pressure to denuclearize, state news agency KCNA said on Tuesday.

This KCNA dispatch effectively refutes the @Chosun report that high-ranking #DPRK official Kim Yong Chol had been sentenced to hard labor as punishment for the failure of the Hanoi @POTUS-Kim summit.

Last Friday, Kim Yong-chol was widely reported to have been sent to a re-education camp as punishment.

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Negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been at a standstill since February, when the second summit between Trump and Kim broke down over what the United States described as excessive North Korean demands for sanctions relief in exchange for only a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

The summit in Hanoi fell apart when Trump said Kim had failed to offer enough nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles in exchange for lifting global sanctions.

"I can not imagine that Kim Hyok Chol misinterpreted the US position and misled his bosses into believing that sanctions relief is possible".

What had Kim Yong Un and his entourage applauding so enthusiastically was a musical performance by the wives of military officers, in which they sang about how they "make every moment of their lives honorable with ardent yearning for the leader and boundless loyalty to him".

Kim Hyok Chol was Pyongyang's counterpart to USA special representative Stephen Biegun in the run-up to Hanoi, and the Choson Ilbo said he had been put to death for "betraying the Supreme Leader" after he was "won over to the US" during pre-summit negotiations.

In 2013, Chosun Ilbo reported that Hyon Song-wol had been shot in a "hail of machine gun fire while members of her orchestra looked on". North Korea test-fired short-range ballistic missiles last month, worrying numerous country's neighbors.

South Korean intelligence officials said in 2016 that the former military chief Ri Yong-gil had been executed for corruption.

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