Senior North Korean official banished to labor camp, accused of ‘breaching doctrine’ on US talks: report

A senior North Korean official was reportedly banished to a labor camp in the Hermit Kingdom after Kim Jong Un accused him of “breaching doctrine” in a proposal for U.S.-North Korea talks, a report said.

Han Song Ryol, once the North Korean vice foreign minister, was sent to a “reeducation camp” after he was removed from his position last year, a South Korean Unification Ministry official told Chosun Ilbo. Han was regarded as a veteran negotiator during U.S.-North Korea talks.

Han Song Ryol, who was once North Korea's vice minister of foreign affairs, was reportedly banished to a North Korean labor camp.

Han Song Ryol, who was once North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs, was reportedly banished to a North Korean labor camp. (AP)

“We received information from an agency in the second half of last year that there were significant changes in Han Song Ryol’s status and reflected the developments,” a government source told the South Korean newspaper on Wednesday.

Han’s name has also been removed from the list of North Korean officials in 2019.

Another source said Han and five other officials were sent to Komdok mine in North Korea’s South Hamgyong province where they will be reportedly forced into long hours of labor in mines, plantations and poultry farms.

“It seems a proposal for U.S.-North Korea talks he submitted to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was criticized for breaching doctrine,” the source said.

Han joined North Korea’s Foreign Ministry in 1980 and once said he respected President Trump the most, according to American restauranteur Robert Egan’s book “Eating with the Enemy.”

The White House announced earlier this month Trump and Kim will be holding a second summit in February, although the exact location has not been revealed. Trump has spoken several times of having a second summit with Kim early this year and has exchanged multiple letters with the North Korean leader despite little tangible progress on a vague denuclearization agreement reached at their first meeting in Singapore last June.

The summit will most likely address denuclearization talks that have come to a halt since the summit in Singapore.

Trump has offered assurances that a second summit would allow the two leaders to seal a deal resolving the nuclear standoff and improving a relationship marked by decades of animosity and mistrust since the Korean War.

Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report.

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