Will Ripley+ Your Authors @willripleyCNN CNN International correspondent. 19 trips to North Korea. RT not endorsement. Instagram: @willripleycnn www.facebook.com/willripleynews Jun. 04, 2019 1 min read + Your Authors

#breaking CNN EXCLUSIVE: Sources: ‘Executed’ North Korean special envoy to the US, Kim Hyok Chol, is still alive and remains in custody and under investigation for his role in the failed Hanoi summit, several sources familiar with the situation tell me.

When asked about a South Korean newspaper report last week, citing a single anonymous source, claiming the top North Korean diplomat was executed in March on charges of “being recruited by U.S. imperialists and betraying the Supreme Leader,” one source said, “the news was wrong.”

Kim Hyok Chol could still face “heavy punishment” for his role in the collapse of talks with the Trump administration in Vietnam, the source added, but his fate has not yet been determined. Kim Hyok Chol has not been seen in public in nearly two months.

Sources also said another top official, Kim Yong Chol, has seen his power “almost deprived” since the failed Hanoi summit, despite his public appearance alongside North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an art performance over the weekend.

The sources add North Korea’s ex-spy chief and lead nuclear negotiator was not sentenced to forced labor, but instead “kept silently in his office writing statements of self-criticism.”

Kim Yong Chol's appearance over the weekend alongside Kim Jong Un – after a 50-day absence from North Korean state media -- is a deliberate signal to the U.S. that Chairman Kim is “not breaking off negotiations over denuclearization,” despite escalating tensions, one source said.

CORRECTION: Kim Song Hye, a key North Korean negotiator, and Sin Hye Yong, Kim Jong Un’s translator in Hanoi, remain in custody and under investigation. (Earlier tweet misidentified Kim as translator) READ MORE:  https://edition-m.cnn.com/2019/06/03/asia/north-korea-diplomats-intl/index.html?r=https%3A%2F%2Fedition.cnn.com%2F 

You can follow @willripleyCNN.


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