North Korean official Kim Yong Chol reappears after purge report
He has been North Korea's top nuclear negotiator since Kim Jong Un entered nuclear talks with the U.S. early last year.
A TV screen at Seoul Railway Station on Monday shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, third from left, and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, right, attending a musical performance in North Korea.Ahn Young-joon / AP
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SEOUL, South Korea — A senior North Korean official who had been reported as purged over the failed nuclear summit with Washington was shown in state media on Monday enjoying a concert near leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korean publications on Monday showed Kim Yong Chol sitting five seats away from a clapping Kim Jong Un in the same row along with other top officials during a musical performance by the wives of Korean People's Army officers.
Kim Yong Chol has been North Korea's top nuclear negotiator and the counterpart of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo since Kim Jong Un entered nuclear talks with the U.S. early last year. He traveled to Washington and met President Donald Trump twice before Kim's two summits with Trump.
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.
South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo last week cited an unidentified source to report that Kim Yong Chol had been sentenced to hard labor and ideological re-education over the failed summit in Hanoi. The newspaper also reported that senior envoy Kim Hyok Chol, who was involved in pre-summit working-level talks with American officials, was executed with four other officials from the North's Foreign Ministry for betraying Kim Jong Un after being won over by the United States.
South Korea's government and media have a mixed record on tracking developments among North Korea's ruling elite, made difficult by Pyongyang's stringent control of information about them.