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Kim Jong Un’s Sister Reappears in Public After Lengthy Absence, Reports Say

William Gallo contributed to this report.

News reports say the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reappeared in public for the first time in more than 50 days amid questions about her status and whether she and other prominent officials have been purged.

The reports said Kim Yo Jong attended North Korea’s “mass games” Monday, which attracted political and military leaders. A photograph showed her seated near her brother and his wife, applauding a performance.

The show in Pyongyang marked the beginning of what was expected to be a five-month-long series of propaganda ceremonies titled, “The Land of the People.” The performance took place as reports said Kim Jong Un was not pleased with the show and criticized the producers for the “wrong spirit of creation and irresponsible work attitude.”

Kim Yo Jong is a senior official in the ruling party. Her appearance follows reporting by South Korean newspaper The Chosunilbo that she had been ordered to lay low as a result of failed nuclear negotiations with the United States.

​U.S. President Donald Trump’s second summit with Kim Jong Un in Hanoi ended in February without agreements on sanctions relief for Pyongyang and on concessions the North would make regarding its banned nuclear and ballistic programs.

Recently, South Korean news outlets have reported on members of the North Korean government being punished and, in some instances, executed. 

The Chosunilbo reported that North Korean diplomat Kim Yong Chol had been sentenced to hard labor; however, he appeared at the performance. It is still possible that he has been sidelined or demoted.

Meanwhile, the fate of North Korean diplomat Kim Hyok Chol is not known. On Tuesday, CNN reported that Kim had been taken into custody but was still alive, according to anonymous sources.  

In a report last Friday, The Chosunilbo said Kim Hyok Chol, the senior North Korean envoy to the United States, had been executed by firing squad in March along with four other senior officials “on charges of spying for America.” It also said Kim Jong Un’s translator had likely been sent to a prison camp for an interpreting error. 

The publication did not say where it received the information, citing only a single anonymous source. The paper has a mixed record of reporting on North Korean leadership purges.

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