‘He was at the theater the other night, so he wasn’t killed’: Trump says North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator was NOT executed after he was spotted attending a show – then says he’ll meet Kim Jong-un again at an ‘appropriate time’
- South Korea’s largest paper Chosun Ilbo reported Friday that North Korean negotiator Kim Hyok Chol had been executed
- North Korean state media reported Sunday he had been to theater performance with Kim Jong-un, and western media reported the story
- A source told CNN the initial report was wrong and that Kim Hyok Choi had been ‘almost deprived’ of power
- ‘He was at the theater the other night. So he wasn’t killed,’ President Trump told reporters
- Trump called Kim Hyok Chol a ‘strong man’
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that North Korea’s special representative to the U.S. for nuclear negotiations had not been assassinated – and stated unequivocally that he ‘wasn’t killed.’
Trump said the negotiator, Kim Hyok Chol, was recently ‘at the theater’ – a reference to North Korean state media, which reported he attended an event with dictator Kim Jong-un Sunday.
That account was picked up by western media, and CNN reported Tuesday that Kim Hyok Chol is alive and in the custody of the North Korean state.
The president was asked after landing in Ireland about reports that Kim had killed one of his own senior officials, following the report that the country’s negotiator had been executed by firing squad.
‘One of the people that was supposedly executed wasn’t executed at all,’ President Donald Trump said when asked about North Korea’s special representative to the U.S.
‘Well, I don’t know if the reports are correct. Because one of the gentlemen who we deal with – this is North Korea that they’re talking about – is somebody that we know well. He’s a strong man, he’s a strong person, and they like to blame Kim Jong-un immediately,’ Trump responded.
‘But they said he was killed, and he wasn’t. He was at the theater the other night,’ said Trump, without revealing the source of his information.
‘So he wasn’t killed.’ Then Trump referenced reports that other North Korean officials had been killed, following the failure to achieve an agreement at the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi earlier this year.
Kim Yong Chol was one of Kim Jong Un’s top aides, before a report that he was purged from politics and sentenced to hard labor. The pair are pictured together in March
Kim Jong Un appeared to be in very high spirits at the event and was seen clapping in the stands alongside his wife at the event Trump referenced
People watch a TV screen showing an image of senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol in a musical performance by the wives of Korean People’s Army officers in North Korea during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday
VLADIVOSTOK, RUSSIA – APRIL 26: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attends the ceremony at Vladivostok Station a day after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 26, 2019 in Vladivostok, Russia
A view of the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15’s test that was successfully launched is seen in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 30, 2017
A commercial satellite image, captured by Planet over the Hodo Peninsula at 10:54 am local time May 4, 2019, shows what analysts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey believe is the launch point and exhaust trail of a new short-range ballistic missile test in North Korea. Picture taken May 4, 2019 and released May 5, 2019
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attends the ceremony at Vladivostok Station a day after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 26, 2019 in Vladivostok, Russia
‘The other four people I know nothing about. But It’s an interesting situation. I think that they would like to make a deal and we’d like to make a with them,’ Trump said of the DPRK.
Trump also referenced North Korea’s recent short-range missile tests, conducted in May. Trump diverged from his own foreign policy team when he tweeted in late May: ‘North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me.’ National Security Advisor John Bolton had blasted the launch for violating UN resolutions barring any ballistic missile tests.
‘It’s been going pretty well because there hasn’t been testing of anything major and frankly there’s been no nuclear testing a long period of time,’ said Trump.
‘When I became president … it was all the time nuclear testing, ballistic testing, and now there’s nothing,’ Trump continued.
Then he spoke of the prospects for success in stalled denuclearization talks.
‘I think Chairman Kim would like to make a deal and I’d like to make a deal with him. I’ll look forward to see him again at the appropriate time,’ said Trump, who noted that ‘one of the people that was supposedly executed wasn’t executed at all.’
Trump visits South Korea later this month following a G20 summit.
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