Asia-Pacific

North Korea's Kim purging ranks post-Hanoi

The Hanoi Summit failed to facilitate a breakthrough in US-North Korea relations. (AAP)

North Korea has executed its special envoy to the US and punished a number of other foreign ministry officials after the failure of February's Hanoi Summit.

North Korea has executed Kim Hyok Chol, its special envoy to the US, and foreign ministry officials who carried out working-level negotiations for the second US-North Korea summit in February, holding them responsible for its collapse, a South Korean newspaper reports.

Kim Yong Chol, a senior official who had been US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's counterpart in the run-up to the summit between President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, is also said to have been subjected to forced labour and ideological education, the Chosun Ilbo said.

The North Korean leader is believed to be carrying out a massive purge to divert attention away from internal turmoil and discontent.

"Kim Hyok Chol was investigated and executed at Mirim Airport with four foreign ministry officials in March," an unnamed North Korea source reportedly said, adding they were charged with spying for the US.

Kim Hyok Chol had been negotiations counterpart to US special representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun before the summit.

Kim Yong Chol was forced to work in Jagang Province after his dismissal, the source said, adding that Kim Song Hye, who carried out working-level negotiations with Kim Hyok Chol, was sent to a political prison camp.

Shin Hye Yong, the interpreter for Kim Jong-un at the Hanoi meeting, is also said to have been detained in a political prison camp.

Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong-un's sister who aided him in Hanoi, is also said to be lying low, the paper reported, citing an unnamed South Korean government official who said: "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."

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