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‘Disappeared’ North Korean official turns up at concert

A SENIOR North Korean official said to have been sent to a labour camp for his role in the stalled nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington has turned up alive at a concert alongside the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

South Korean media reported last Friday that Kim Yong Chol had been sentenced to hard labour and “ideological education” following the collapse of Mr Kim’s summit meeting with US President Donald Trump in Vietnam in February.

The Chosun Ilbo newspaper also suggested that North Korea’s special envoy to the US, Kim Hyok Chol, had been executed along with several other foreign ministry officials in March.

However the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported this morning that the former spy chief was listed among senior Workers’ Party of Korea officials at an art performance by wives of military officers on Sunday night. 

An accompanying photograph showing Kim Yong Chol sitting five seats away from Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yong Chol played an important role in setting up the historic meetings between Kim Jong Un and his US counterpart.

He visited the White House last year and delivered a handwritten letter to Mr Trump, which paved the way for the Singapore summit between the two leaders.

Seoul is regularly accused of putting out false information about disappearances and executions of leading figures in North Korea.

In 2013, singer Hyon Song Wol was reported to have died in a “hail of machine-gun fire while members of her orchestra looked on.”

However, in 2018 she led a visiting delegation to South Korea capital in advance of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang that year.

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