Kim Jong Un expressed his dismay at the breakdown of the US-North Korea summit earlier this year by having his special envoy to the US shot and his interpreter sent to a gulag, according to South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper. A North Korean source told the newspaper that envoy Kim Hyok Chol, who led negotiations to set up the February summit in Vietnam, was charged with spying for the US and executed by firing squad along with four other foreign ministry officials, the Guardian reports. The source, who described the executions as part of a wider purge of officials, said senior negotiator Kim Yong Chol had been sent to a labor camp for "ideological education," as had interpreter Shin Hye Yong, who allegedly made a serious mistake while translating for Kim.
While North Korea has been known to execute officials who displease the regime, the report has not been confirmed by government officials or other media outlets and there has been no comment from Pyongyang, the AP reports. The Rodong Sinmun newspaper in North Korea, however, warned Thursday that those who have "different goals" from Kim "cannot escape a heavy judgement." Analysts say that if the report is true, it could be some time before North Korea is ready to restart nuclear talks. "Perhaps this explains why Pyongyang has been ghosting Washington and Seoul since Hanoi because it might have needed to clean house and regroup before negotiating again," Duyeon Kim at the Center for a New American Security think-tank in Seoul tells Bloomberg. (Read more Kim Jong Un stories.)