North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, displeased with the performance of his primary nuclear negotiator, has executed the diplomat, according to South Korean media.
The execution was part of a purge of officials involved in the U.S.-North Korean summit last February. The explanation given for the execution by the Kim regime was bizarre but typical of the gangsters who run North Korea.
Kim Hyok Chol was executed in March at Mirim Airport in Pyongyang, along with four foreign ministry officials after they were charged with spying for the United States, the Chosun Ilbo reported, citing an unidentified source with knowledge of the situation.
“He was accused of spying for the United States for poorly reporting on the negotiations without properly grasping U.S. intentions,” the source was quoted as saying.
Mr. Kim was wrong, so off with his head.
In a matter of weeks, Kim Hyok Chol went from golden boy to enemy of the state:
Kim Hyok Chol was seen as a rising star when he was appointed to spearhead working-level talks with U.S. nuclear envoy Stephen Biegun weeks before the Hanoi summit.
However, little was known about his expertise or his role in the talks. The four executed alongside him included diplomats working on relations with Vietnam, the Chosun report said.
“This is a man who might provide some tactical advice to the leader but is otherwise a message bearer with little negotiating or policymaking latitude,” said Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at the Washington-based Stimson Centre.
“Instead, they put in someone like Kim Hyok Chol to insulate Choe Son Hui and more substantive diplomatic personnel, to a certain degree he is expendable and his superiors are not.”
Is Kim Jong-un a madman? Not at all. His regime is so isolated and insular that what appears to be incomprehensible behavior to us is business as usual for Kim. When you wield absolute power like Kim, including the power of life and death over millions of people, life is cheap and disappointing the leader is grounds for execution by the state.
For a short while, it appeared that Kim would open his country to the world — at least in a limited way. That doesn’t appear likely now. The North Korean people will continue to starve, the elites will continue to enjoy the fruits of being in Kim’s good graces, and the military will continue to build weapons of mass destruction.
At least, until someone puts a stop to it all.