Mike Pompeo says the US is investigating if Kim Jong Un executed a North Korean official after his summit with Trump

  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US is investigating a report that North Korea executed the official that served as the special envoy to the US during the summit between the US and North Korea.
  • South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported that Kim Hyok Chol was executed after the summit's collapse for "betraying the supreme leader" as part of a purge.
  • The report has not been confirmed, and some previous reports by South Korean media turned out to have been incorrect.
  • Chosun Ilbo reported that other officials were also executed and others were sentenced to hard labor.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US is looking into a report that North Korea executed a top envoy after the summit between North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump collapsed.

Kim Hyok Chol, North Korea's special envoy to the US, was executed after the summit ended early, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported on Friday. The summit collapsed after the two leaders had failed to reach agreements over nuclear disarming and sanctions, according to Trump.

The report cited an unnamed North Korean source, and has not been confirmed by other news outlets, or the North Korean or South Korean governments.

The report said he was executed in March for "being recruited by US imperialists and betraying the supreme leader."

Pompeo responded to a journalist's question about the reported execution in Berlin on Friday: "We've seen the reporting to which you are referring."

"We're doing our best to check it out. I don't have anything else to add to that today," he said, according to Reuters.

Related: North Korea celebrates 70th anniversary

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North Korea celebrates 70th anniversary
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North Korea celebrates 70th anniversary
People wave plastic flowers and balloons during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march with the portrait of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of country's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
People wave plastic flowers and flags during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Students perform during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
People perform during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
People wave plastic flowers and flags during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers salute a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
North Koreans tour on a vessel on the Yalu river outside Sinuiju, North Korea, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, on the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jacky Chen
People carry flags in front of statues of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung (L) and late leader Kim Jong Il during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Kim Jong Un waves to the crowd as he attends mass games on the occasion of�he 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Fireworks explode during the Mass Games at May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
People watch Mass Games at May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
People watch Mass Games at May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants wait to perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants form Kim Il Sung portrait and North Korean national flag during Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants hold their books after performing at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Participants perform at Mass Games in May Day stadium marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and China's Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), wave to people while attending a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Military officers stand near portraits of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung (L) and late leader Kim Jong Il during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
A soldier salutes as he rides a tank during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Self propelled artillery roll pass during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Soldiers ride a multiple rocket launcher during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Attendees lay a wreath during the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation, in this undated photo released on September 9, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
Attendees offer flowers during the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation, in this undated photo released on September 9, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean official Kim Yong Nam meets with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz during the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation, in this undated photo released on September 9, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
Attendees during the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation, in this undated photo released on September 9, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
Attendees offer flowers during the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation, in this undated photo released on September 9, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 9, 2018: A military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the foundation of North Korea. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 9, 2018: Performers take part in the Arirang Mass Games marking the 70th anniversary of the foundation of North Korea, at May Day Stadium. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 9, 2018: Fireworks light up the sky over May Day Stadium during the Arirang Mass Games marking the 70th anniversary of the foundation of North Korea. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images)
Participants perform in a 'Mass Games' artistic and gymnastic display at the May Day stadium in Pyongyang on September 9, 2018. - The biggest show on earth made a comeback as North Korea put on its its all-singing, all-dancing propaganda display, the 'Mass Games', for the first time in five years. Months in the preparation, the show featured tens of thousands of performers under the curved arches of the May Day Stadium, made up of 17,490 children simultaneously turning the coloured pages of books to create giant images rippling across one side of the stadium an analogue version, on a giant scale, of a usually digital solution to a digital demand. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
Participants perform in a 'Mass Games' artistic and gymnastic display at the May Day stadium in Pyongyang on September 9, 2018. - The biggest show on earth made a comeback as North Korea put on its its all-singing, all-dancing propaganda display, the 'Mass Games', for the first time in five years. Months in the preparation, the show featured tens of thousands of performers under the curved arches of the May Day Stadium, made up of 17,490 children simultaneously turning the coloured pages of books to create giant images rippling across one side of the stadium an analogue version, on a giant scale, of a usually digital solution to a digital demand. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 9, 2018: North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the foundation of North Korea. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images)
Participants perform in a 'Mass Games' artistic and gymnastic display at the May Day stadium in Pyongyang on September 9, 2018. - The biggest show on earth made a comeback as North Korea put on its its all-singing, all-dancing propaganda display, the 'Mass Games', for the first time in five years. Months in the preparation, the show featured tens of thousands of performers under the curved arches of the May Day Stadium, made up of 17,490 children simultaneously turning the coloured pages of books to create giant images rippling across one side of the stadium an analogue version, on a giant scale, of a usually digital solution to a digital demand. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 9, 2018: A military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the foundation of North Korea. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 9, 2018: Servicemen during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the foundation of North Korea. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images)
Participants march during a mass rally on Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang on September 9, 2018. - North Korea was marking the 70th anniversary of its founding.Korean People's Army (KPA) tanks take part in a military parade on Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang on September 9, 2018. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [BYLINE - ED JONES]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
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Chosun Ilbo reported that the execution was part of a purge of top officials that saw four other officials executed.

It reported that a senior official was part of Kim's team for both of his summits with Trump was sentenced to hard labor and ideological "re-education." The official, Kim Yong Chol, met Trump at the White House in 2018 and was photographed with him.

It also reported that an interpreter from the summit was imprisoned for what the newspaper said was an interpretation error at the February summit. It said that North Korea felt the error "damaged the authority" of Kim.

North Korea has previously executed officials without announcing it, but previous reports in South Korean media about such executions have also been incorrect, The Associated Press noted.

There have been cases where South Korean media or intelligence officials said that an individual was executed, only for them to re-emerge months later. But some reports have also been accurate.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Friday that the US is "monitoring the situation" but declined to comment further.

"I am not going to comment on intelligence one way or another. I can tell you we are monitoring the situation and continuing to stay focused on our ultimate goal, which is denuclearization."

South Korea said that "it's inappropriate to make hasty judgments or comments" about the report, The Associated Press reported.

Trump said that the February summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, collapsed because Kim was demanding that all sanctions on North Korea were lifted but did not agree to closing enough nuclear sites.

"Sometimes you have to walk and this was one of those times," he said just after the summit collapsed. North Korean media called it "extraordinary" and "successful," making no mention of the collapse.

 

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