North Korea 'executed four officials by firing squad' following failed US summit

The hermit state has reportedly executed four foreign ministry officials after Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump’s latest summit, held in February in Vietnam, failed. The officials are thought to have been executed by firing squad in Pyongyang earlier in April. But according to Japanese agency AsiaPress, rumours have circulated that the officials were accused by North Korea of selling information to the US ahead of the summit.

A trade official in the secretive country believe this caused the Hanoi summit to fail and ordered the death of the officials.

The deceased officials are said to have also included a diplomat from the North Korean embassy in Hanoi.

The country’s media is state controlled, while communication with the rest of the world is restricted. Punishment for anyone sharing information can be severe.

The news agency said one of its reporters had spoken to a trade official as they travelled to Pyongyang from China earlier this month.

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.

It was also claimed the execution was watched by members of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea and Korean People’s Army.

Yonhap news agency reported North Korea had replaced Kim Jong Un’s right-hand man who steered nuclear talks with the United States.

Kim Yong Chol, Mike Pompeo’s Korean counterpart, was removed as head of the United Front Department, the North Korean Workers’ Party apparatus that traditionally oversees ties with South Korea and increasingly with the United States, reported.

A South Korean lawmaker said The NK Worker’s Party blamed the official for the failed summit between the two countries.

A spokeswoman for the US State Department said it was aware of the reports but withheld further comment except to add: “As we have said before, we remain ready to engage in constructive negotiations.”

Meanwhile the North Korean leader arrived at Russia’s Vladivostok station by armoured train on Wednesday at the start of a state visit to gain the support of President Vladimir Putin.

Ahead of the talks on Thursday, Kim told Russian state TV through an interpreter: “I hope that we can discuss concrete questions about peace negotiations on the Korean peninsula, and our bilateral relations.”