North Korea's nuclear envoy, who a South Korean newspaper said last week had been executed, is alive but in custody and under investigation for his role in a failed summit with the United States, according to CNN on Tuesday.
Executed or not?
Confusion around one of North Korea's top nuclear envoys grew even deeper on Tuesday (June 4), after CNN reported Kim Hyok Chol is alive and in state custody.
Kim had led North Korea's working-level talks in the runup to the Hanoi summit, a meeting with President Donald Trump that ultimately fell apart.
Last week, one of South Korea's top newspapers reported the diplomat had been executed over the failure.
However, CNN's cited sources on Tuesday that say he's only under investigation over his role but that he could still face 'heavy punishment'.
South Korea's Chosun Ilbo cited an unidentified sources who told them he'd been killed in March.
The paper also reported that Kim Yong Chol, a senior official with a leading role in U.S. talks, had been sent to a so-called re-education camp.
But that's been contested too.
The North's state media ran photos on Sunday of Kim, sitting next to Kim Jong Un himself at an art performance.
Supposedly the pictures were taken the day before the Chosun Ilbo's report went out.
Experts say it's difficult to factually verify North Korean purges of its top leaders and Reuters has not been able to independently confirm the Chosun Ilbo report.
South Korean stories on North Korean executions have been wrong in the past. (Reuters)