Venting frustration at the failed Hanoi summit with President Donald Trump, North Korea has executed its special envoy to the U.S and a few other foreign ministry officials. They faced charges of “spying for the U.S.”

The top official Kim Hyok Chol and four more officials were executed in March. Chol was killed after subjecting him to forced labor and ideological education. 

Reporting the news, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo said Hyok Chol had been a counterpart to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s in the run-up to the summit.

Chol has been credited with paving way for the nuclear talks between North Korea and the U.S.

 “Kim Hyok Chol was investigated and executed at Mirim Airport with four foreign ministry officials in March,” it said quoting an unnamed North Korea source. 

The second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took place in Hanoi in February after the first meeting in Singapore, a year before. But the Hanoi summit ended abruptly.

Purge aimed at deflecting attention from internal turmoil

The report added that the North Korea president is on a “purge” spree to deflect attention from the internal discontent and domestic turmoil.

Kim Song Hye, who held working-level negotiations with Kim Hyok Chol is shut in a political prison camp, Chosun reported.

The interpreter for Kim Jong Un at the Hanoi meeting, Shin Hye Yong, is also under arrest in a political prison camp.  This was for “undermining the authority” of Kim Jong Un and making a critical mistake in the communication.

Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, who assisted her brother in Hanoi is keeping a low profile, the paper reported.

 “We are not aware of Kim Yo Jong’s track record since the Hanoi meeting ... We understand that Kim Jong Un has made her lie low.”

‘Stern judgment for disloyalty’

The commentary carried by North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun held some insight into the executions.

The South Korean news paper's report observed that the latest executions in North Korea have come after a long pause. The rhetoric on purging as “anti-party, anti-revolutionary” and “stern judgment” is appearing in Rodong Sinmun after a long gap, the newspaper said.

Kim is known to be tough with people who disrespect him. Since his ascension to power in 2011, after the death of his father Kim Jong-il, the North Korea leader has ordered many high-profile purges.

In 2013, Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong’s uncle was executed. In 2016, Kim ordered death for Ri Yong-jin, a senior official in the education ministry, for sleeping at a meeting chaired by him.

A year ago, Hyon Yong-Chol, a former North Korean defense chief was executed for disrespectful behavior to Kim at a military rally.