Kim Hyok Chol, the envoy for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, has been executed due to the tyrant’s anger over the failed summit with President Donald Trump, Reuters is reporting.
It had briefly looked like Trump was making progress in peace talks with the North Korean regime until it all fell apart. Kim Hyok Chol and other foreign ministry officials paid the price for that, according to Reuters. The report originally derived from South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper. However, Bloomberg reports that South Korean media reports on North Korean executions are not always accurate.
Kim Hyok Chol was described as a career diplomat.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kim Hyok Chol Handled ‘Working Level Negotiations’ During the Summit
Kim Hyok Chol was a major player during the second summit between Kim and Trump, handling “working level negotiations,” according to Reuters. However, he fell out of the dictator’s favor when the summit with Trump imploded, reports say.
Kim Hyok Chol was executed by firing squad “after being charged with espionage for allegedly being co-opted by the U.S.,” Bloomberg reported.
According to the Guardian, before being executed, he was subjected to ideological indoctrination and forced labor. Kim was one of four officials executed at an airport, reports The Hill.
2. Other Top Korean Officials Are Doing Hard Labor as a Result of the Summit
Other top Korean officials who were at Kim’s side during the failed Hanoi summit with Trump are also in danger, according to the Guardian.
Guardian reports that they include Kim’s interpreter Shin Hye-yong, who was detained at a prison camp, according to South Korean media.
Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong, who was also involved in the summit, is said to be “lying low” in a bid to escape Kim’s ire over the failed talks, according to Guardian.
Kim Yong Chol, a top deputy of the North Korean leader, was sentenced to hard labor, reports The Hill.
Kim Hyok Chol’s purported downward trajectory in Kim’s eyes shows how fickle the North Korean leader can be. According to Kyodo News, Kim Hyok Chol even visited the United States for three days “accompanying Kim Yong Chol, a close aide to Kim Jong Un.”
3. Kim Hyok Chol Took Over as the Result of Another Purge
According to Japan Times, Kim Hyok Chol, perhaps ironically, was named to Kim’s negotiating team after a purge between the first and second summit with Trump.
In addition, he came on board after a series of espionage claims and disappearances involving other top leaders in the North Korean regime, reports South China Morning Post, which highlights Kim Jong-un’s longstanding distrust in career diplomats.
The site reported that Kim undertook the first purge to get rid of people who were close to his father.
4. Kim Hyok Chol Was North Korea’s Ambassador to Spain
Before he became involved in negotiations with Kim Jong-un and Trump, Kim Hyok Chol served as North Korea’s ambassador to Spain, according to the site The Diplomat in Spain. According to Japan Times, he was “expelled in 2017 after North Korean nuclear and missile tests” and started working for an organization called the State Affairs Commission.
The Guardian reports that Kim Hyok Chol was “credited with paving the way for nuclear talks” with the United States before Kim turned on him and blamed him for the implosion of talks with Trump.
Guardian describes Kim Hyok Chol as “US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s counterpart” during the negotiations.
5. Kim Hyok Chol Was a Little Known Figure Before His Involvement in the Summit
Although he was dubbed a “skilled rhetorician,” Kim Hyok Chol was such an unknown figure when he was tapped to spearhead the American summit negotiations, that a South Korean newspaper drew a circle around him in a video to question who he was, according to Bloomberg.
He was believed to be in his 40s, according to Japan Times.
“Kim Hyok-chol is a career diplomat too, but he apparently has passed a loyalty test to become the point man in the negotiations,” a source told China Morning Post.