Kim Yong-chol: ‘Purged’ N Korean diplomat appears with Kim

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North Korea's state media Tuesday showed Kim Yo Jong clapping aside her brother, his wife and other top officials at the 150,000-seat May Day Stadium where thousands of gymnasts, dancers and flip-card-wielding spectators worked in precise unison to perform "The Land of the People".

A report by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency named Kim Yong Chol among the attendees of the event, which it said "impressively represented the ideological and mental features of KPA officers' wives, who make every moment of their life honorable with ardent yearning for the leader".

Noting that artists "have a very important duty in socialist cultural construction", Kim "set forth important tasks for correctly implementing the revolutionary policy of our Party on literature and art", KCNA said.

The reemergence of Kim Yong Chol, a powerful, hard-line former spy chief and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's counterpart in talks with the United States, underlines how opaque the North Korean regime remains to the outside world. Kim Yong Ju, the brother of Kim Il Sung - North Korea's founder and the grandfather of Kim Jong Un - disappeared for almost two decades.

North Korea warned that if the United States does not come up with something new "before it is too late", the joint statement would just turn out to be a "mere blank sheet of paper".

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Also present at the event were senior government officials including Kim Yong-chol, the North's counterpart to U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, in nuclear talks.

However sources have told CNN Kim Hyok-chol, has not been executed.

The appearance followed conflicting reports of shakeups in the team that led engagement with the United States a year ago, only for nuclear talks to collapse after Kim and US President Donald Trump failed to reach a pact in February.

In April, an official photograph from a session of North Korea's rubber-stamp legislature showed Kim Yong Chol standing behind Kim Jong Un, but he did not accompany Kim on his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin later that month.

Sunday's appearance followed conflicting reports of shakeups in the team that led engagement with the United States a year ago, only for nuclear talks to collapse after Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump failed to strike a pact at a February summit.

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Although North Korea has previously banished or executed scapegoats to atone for major political failings, experts doubted the recent reports saying such extreme punishments were unlikely unless Kim Jong Un was abandoning negotiations with the United States.

The story cited an anonymous source inside North Korea, and was not confirmed by the governments of North or South Korea.

"If Kim has not given up on negotiations with the USA, it is unlikely that he will impose such extreme punishment", he said.

Kim Yo-jong is a senior official of North Korea's ruling party and is believed to be her brother's closest confidant.

He also reportedly said that it isn't likely that Kim Jung Un executed Kim Hyok Chol, when it was Kim Yong Chol who was the more senior official involved with the Hanoi Summit talks.

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About reports of a "shakeup" of Kim's negotiating team in a May 5 interview with Australia's ABC News, Pompeo said it did appear that his future counterpart would be somebody else, adding: "But we don't know that for sure".

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