North Korea’s vice foreign minister and five ministerial directors have been sent to one of the regime’s most notorious labour camps, apparently after submitting a proposal on ways to break the diplomatic impasse with the United States that was condemned by Kim Jong-un for “breaching doctrine”.
Han Song-ryol, a veteran negotiator in talks between Pyongyang and Washington, was sacked last year, an official of South Korea’s Unification Ministry told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper. The ministry confirmed Mr Han’s fate in the latter part of last year and has removed him from its latest list of officials in the North Korean government.
The newspaper quoted another official as saying that Mr Han was sent to the Komdok mine, in South Hamgyong Province, to undergo “re-education”. That punishment is likely to include long hours labouring in the mine, with little food or medical care should it be required. The North Korean government also has a policy of punishing anyone found guilty of failing the nation by sentencing their immediate family to prison terms that include hard labour.
“It seems that a proposal for US-North Korea talks he submitted to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was criticised for breaching doctrine”, the ministry official said.