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Oval Office, June 1, 2018

Remember The Guy Who Handed Trump The Giant Envelope From Kim Jong-un In The Oval Office?

That was North Korea’s chief negotiator Kim Yong-chol . And if you believe a major newspaper in South Korea, he’s now in a labor camp…

Sent there — way North of the capital— by North Korea’s leader following the most recent “failed” summit with Trump in Vietnam at the end of February. And according to the Chosun Ilbo, so is a translator, reportedly accused of “tarnishing the authority” of the leader by making an interpreting error. And the diplomat who worked most closely with the U.S. on pre-summit groundwork, Kim Hyok-chol, was executed, according to the newspaper, after being accused of being an American spy.

Actually, most of this story was reported almost immediately after Trump walked out on the Vietnam meeting with Kim, but did not gain traction because it was impossible to confirm (and the names of the people involved were not clear at the time). It’s still not confirmed, and the South Korean newspaper is attributing it to a single, unnamed source (which would not be sufficient sourcing for most major news organizations in the U.S. to run with). The South Korean newspaper is backing its reporting by pointing to heightened rhetoric in a North Korean newspaper about “moral fidelity to the leader” and “traitors and turncoats” and “the stern judgment of the revolution”, that coincidentally appeared at the time these internments and executions were allegedly happening, but did not refer to anyone specifically (which is not unusual).

While the Chosun Ilbo is reputable, it’s also extremely Conservative, meaning it’s often highly critical of diplomatic efforts to warm relations with the leader in the North.

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With North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at their first summit, about a year ago, in Singapore

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