Photos of North Korean officials emerge days after reports they had been stood down
A former spy chief and the Supreme Leader's sister have recently been pictured publicly.
A North Korean top official has re-emerged in public after reports a week before said he had been sent to a prison labour camp.
According to Reuters, a South Korean newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, reported on May 31 that North Korea’s former top nuclear envoy, Kim Yong-chol, had been sent to a labour and re-education camp.
In attendance at an art performance
However, on June 3, North Korean state media KCNA published a photo of Kim Yong-chol with Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un attending an art performance.
In the photo, he is sitting five seats away from Kim Jong-un and was named by KCNA as one of 12 “leading officials”.
Reuters reported that this appeared to show that the banished one still “remains a force in the power structure”.
But it is unknown when the photo was taken or if it has been doctored, as the North Koreans are wont to do.
Breakdown of talks
According to The Washington Post, Kim Yong-chol, who is known as a hardline former spy chief, had previously been at the forefront of denuclearisation talks, acting as the counterpart to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
He was a notable absence when Kim Jong-un visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in April, prompting reports that he had been “censored” following the breakdown of talks between the U.S. and North Korea at the February summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Kim Jong-Un’s sister also reappears
Another official who was said to have been stood down following the Hanoi summit was Kim Jong-un’s sister and close confidante Kim Yo-jong.
According to the Associated Press, Kim Yo-jong was also absent from the April visit to Russia.
Chosun Ilbo reported that she had been ordered by the Supreme Leader to “lay low”.
However, she too was pictured by KCNA attending a “Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance” on June 4 seated next to Kim Jong-un’s wife, Ri Sol-ju.
Top image via KCNA