Purged no more: North Korean official appears at show

North Korea Mass Games

North Korea Mass Games

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 alongside leader Kim Jong Un.

But Chol's attendance at a performance by the wives of North Korean Army officers on Sunday indicates he may still yield influence in the Hermit Kingdom.

Asked about the last USA contact with Mr Kim Yong Chol and North Korea in general on Sunday, Mr Pompeo declined to answer, saying: "We conduct our negotiations in private".

A South Korean newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, reported last week that an anonymous source believed Kim Yong Chol, who has met with President Trump twice in Washington regarding the nuclear talks, was purged from the dictator's inner circle of advisors because he failed to secure a deal in February that would force the U.S.to provide sanction relief to North Korea despite the isolated nation's unwillingness to surrender their nuclear arsenal.

As Mr Kim Jong Un's point man for nuclear talks with the US, Mr Kim Yong Chol was apparently censured for the summit's collapse by being removed from a key party post, a South Korean lawmaker said in April.

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A picture carried by the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed the official sitting five seats down from Kim Jong Un, with both his hands covering his face.

Absent from the list, however, was Kim Hyok Chol, North Korea's special envoy to the United States who - according to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper - was executed by firing squad for "betraying the supreme leader" after he was "won over to the US" during pre-summit negotiations.

Kim Jong Un since then has said the United States has until the end of the year to come up with mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage the negotiations.

Officials who worked with Kim Yong Chol have been out of the public eye since the summit, while seasoned diplomats who appeared to have been sidelined, including Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, were seen returning to the spotlight.

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