North Korea Nuclear Envoy Appears in Public After Rumors of Purge

Former spymaster attended art performance with Kim

South Korean media reports of a purge of North Korean officials after the failed Hanoi summit appear to have been ultimately false, as Kim Yong Chol, the top negotiator and highest ranked target of the supposed purge, has appeared in public totally fine.

A former North Korean spy chief and high-ranking official, Kim Yong Chol appeared publicly with Kim Jong Un at an art performance over the weekend, suggesting he did not fall precariously out of favor.

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo had reported Kim Yong Chol to have been sent to a “labor and re-education camp,” while another top official, Kim Hyuk Chol, had been killed outright.

There was considerable doubt even when the report emerged, as others noted that South Korean paper hadn’t historically been accurate on claims of North Koreans being killed or sent to labor camps. As with this case, a lot of those people eventually turned up unharmed.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of