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North Korea 'executes four officials by firing squad' after failed summit with US

Mirror logo Mirror 24/04/2019 Chris kitching
Choe Ryong-hae et al. wearing military uniforms posing for a photo: This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 6, 2019 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) visiting a construction site of a hot spring tourist area in Yangdok, South Pyongan Province. (Photo by KCNA VIA KNS / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP) / - South Korea OUT / ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE --- / KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images © AFP/Getty Images This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 6, 2019 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) visiting a construction site of a hot spring tourist area in Yangdok, South Pyongan Province. (Photo by KCNA VIA KNS / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP) / - South Korea OUT / ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE --- / KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea executed four officials from its foreign ministry after Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump's latest summit failed, a new report has claimed.

The officials are said to have been killed by a firing squad in Pyongyang earlier this month after Kim and Trump's talks in Vietnam broke off without a deal.

A Japanese press agency reported that the rumours were spreading through the secretive country after it spoke to a trade official who recently visited North Korea and a source inside the hermit state.

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According to the report, North Korea had accused the four officials of selling information to the US before the Hanoi summit, causing it to fail.

Kim Jong-un wearing a military uniform standing in front of a crowd: Kim Jong-un arrives in Vladivostok, Russia, on Wednesday before his meeting with Vladimir Putin © REUTERS Kim Jong-un arrives in Vladivostok, Russia, on Wednesday before his meeting with Vladimir Putin

The four who were shot dead, according to the rumour, are said to include a diplomat from North Korea's embassy in Hanoi.

However, Japan's Asia Press, which reported the information on Wednesday along with South Korean media, said the claims of the apparent executions have not been verified.

The verification of claims out of North Korea is very difficult given the country's secrecy and that its media is controlled by the state. Communication with the outside world is highly restricted, and the punishment for anyone caught sharing information can be severe.

There are also reports that Kim has given his sister a demotion and removed his right-hand man following the failed summit.

Asia Press said one of its reporters spoke to a trade official who heard a rumour about the executions when they travelled to Pyongyang from China in mid-April.

A source who lives close to the border told the agency that four officials were executed in Pyongyang at the beginning of April for leaking information. a large body of water with a city in the background: It is claimed four foreign ministry officials were executed in Pyongyang © Getty Images It is claimed four foreign ministry officials were executed in Pyongyang

The execution was watched by members of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea and Korean People's Army, it is claimed.

The source told Asia Press that the officials were accused of selling information to the US government before Kim, 35, and Trump, 72, met in Hanoi in late February.

For the US, the talks were aimed at achieving denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula, while North Korea was seeking to have crippling sanctions lifted.

Neither aim was achieved and the talks abruptly broke off.

The Hanoi summit was held after talks in Singapore last year also failed to produce a deal.

According to the rumour, the officials who were executed were blamed for the summit's failure.

Kim Jong-un holding a phone: Kim Jong-un at a Worker's Party meeting in Pyongyang this month © REUTERS Kim Jong-un at a Worker's Party meeting in Pyongyang this month

But there was speculation that the claims were fabricated in an attempt to shift the responsibility for the failure off of Kim and onto officials who allegedly betrayed the leader.

In early April, it was reported Kim had visited his father's birthplace, the sacred Paektu Mountain - a trip he traditionally makes before making big decisions.

His uncle Jang Song-thaek, 67, was executed for alleged treason a month after the leader visited the mountain in November 2013.

Kim visited the mountain after the Singapore summit with Trump and before his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Kim and Moon visited Paektu along with their wives in September last year.

a group of people posing for the camera: Kim and his wife Ri Sol-ju pose with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook on the top of Mount Paektu © Credits: Getty Images AsiaPac Kim and his wife Ri Sol-ju pose with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook on the top of Mount Paektu

Photos showed the two leaders clutching hands on top of the volcanic mountain which straddles the North Korea-China border.

Days after Kim's most recent visit he held a session of the Supreme People’s Assembly where he warned that relations with the US will remain "hostile" until crippling sanctions are lifted and the US and South Korea end war games near the border.

It emerged after the assembly that Kim may have given his sister, Kim Yo-jong, a demotion.

The adviser was considered the most powerful woman in North Korea - joining him at the summits with Trump and appearing at last year's Winter Olympics - but she may have been kicked out of its Politburo, according to reports.

But she has joined him in Russia for his meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

It has also emerged that Kim's right-hand man Kim Yong-chol, 74, has been removed from a top post, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

He had been head of the United Front Department, the Workers' Party apparatus that handles ties with South Korea and the US, featured prominently at the summit in Hanoi and had visited the White House in January to meet Trump and his US counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Kim's arrival in Russia on Wednesday suffered a glitch when his armoured train missed the red carpet laid out for his welcome at Vladivostok station.

A smiling Kim, dressed in a black overcoat and black fedora hat, emerged onto the platform to be greeted by Russian officials about a minute late after the train was forced to reverse a few metres to ensure his door was aligned with the official welcoming line.

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