A senior North Korean official involved in denuclearization talks with the U.S. attended a concert with dictator Kim Jong Un, state media reported late Sunday, contradicting rumors that he was sentenced to hard labor as a result of the failed negotiations.
Kim Yong Chol, the North Korean counterpart to U.S. Secretary Mike Pompeo, was photographed sitting with Kim Jong Un, who was clapping at a musical performance by the wives of the Korean People's Army officers, according to state media.
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.
Kim Jong Un gave the U.S. until the end of the year to reach a compromise but has sought to ramp up pressure on Washington in the meantime with renewed missile launches and threats in recent months.
The Chosun Ilbo also reported that senior envoy Kim Hyok Chol, who was involved in pre-summit discussions with U.S. officials, was executed by firing squad along with four other officials from the North's Foreign Ministry for treason.
The report said Kim Jong Un ordered the execution after he believed the officials were "won over by the American imperialists to betray the supreme leader."
Reports of these deaths could not be confirmed by Seoul's spy service, according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.