A veteran North Korean diplomat who South Korean media say may have been purged has reappeared in public but without his senior Foreign Ministry job title.

South Korean media speculated that Kung Sok Ung, North Korea's vice foreign minister for European affairs, may have been banished to a rural farm as punishment following Seoul's August announcement that the No. 2 diplomat in North Korea's London embassy defected to South Korea.

Kung hadn't appeared in the North's Korean Central News Agency since Aug. 24. But a KCNA dispatch Sunday said he appeared with diplomats at a sports game in North Korea, identifying him as a former vice minister.

It's rare for North Korea's state media to mention a former government official. South Korean media said he may assume another government post.