North Korea 'executes official for public bath visit while in quarantine'

Singer Hyon Song Wol, 2013 

South Korean media claimed in 2013 that singer Hyon Song Wol had been executed by firing squad in a salacious sex tape scandal. 

One newspaper even described her as Kim Jong-un’s ‘ex-girlfriend’. 

However, she was very much alive and later emerged as a key member of Kim’s government, accompanying him in his meetings with Donald Trump. 

Kim’s uncle Jang Song Thaek, 2013

Kim’s uncle was executed in 2013 after a special military tribunal found him guilty of treason. 

South Korea’s spy agency had initially revealed the purge, saying that Jang had been removed from office and an aide sentenced to death.  

In a rare public admission, North Korea subsequently confirmed the purge and announced that Jang himself had been executed. 

Official media claimed Jang had been plotting to seize power since the death of Kim’s father Kim Jong-il in 2011. 

Military chief Ri Yong Gil, 2016 

Seoul intelligence officials claimed in 2016 that military chief Ri Yong Gil had been condemned to death for corruption and other charges. 

The report appeared to be bolstered when official updates described someone else as chief of general staff, indicating that Ri had lost his job.  

However, state media later said that Ri was still alive and in possession of several new senior posts. 

Ri later returned to his post as chief of the military staff in 2018. 

Vice premier Kim Yong Jin, 2016 

Claims of Kim Yong Jin’s death came straight from officials at Seoul’s Unification Ministry in 2016. 

Seoul said that Kim was executed by firing squad for unspecified anti-revolutionary and factional acts. 

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He had also allegedly sparked anger for not keeping his posture upright at a public event. 

North Korea has not confirmed or denied the report, but Kim has never reappeared in public.  

Nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, 2019

A South Korean newspaper reported last May that the North’s top nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol had been exiled to hard labour after a failed summit with Trump.

The report claimed that senior envoy Kim Hyok Chol was executed in the same purge. 

The claim about Kim Yong Chol’s exile proved false within days when official media published pictures of him sitting at a concert just a few seats away from Kim Jong-un. 

Experts said the pictures also cast serious doubt on the claim of Kim Hyok Chol’s execution, because he was the more junior official.   



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