North Korea executed its pointman on South Korea last year, holding him responsible for wrong predictions about Seoul’s new conservative government that has ditched a decade of engagement policy toward Pyongyang, sources said Monday.
Choe Sung-chol, who as vice chairman of the North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee had pushed for bold reconciliation with Seoul’s previous liberal governments, disappeared from public sight early last year amid reports that he was fired.
Rumors spread in January that he was forced to work at a chicken farm, but a number of sources privy to North Korean internal affairs told Yonhap News Agency that Choe was executed last year to shoulder the blame for his judgments on Seoul that proved wrong.
N Korea Purged Officials After Seoul Ties Soured – Analysts
SEOUL (AFP) — Communist North Korea purged key officials who had pushed for reconciliation with South Korea after ties with Seoul worsened sharply last year, observers said Tuesday. But they cast doubt on a media report that one of the officials, Choe Sung Chol, had been executed…
…”North Korea sacked Choe and other figures involved in inter-Korean projects and relations,” said Lee Seung-yong, director of Good Friends, a research group with extensive contacts in the North. He said the purge focused on the United Front Department and the Korea Asia- Pacific Peace Committee, which supervised a Seoul-funded industrial estate at Kaesong, tours to the Mount Kumgang resort and other joint projects.
Choe, who once enjoyed the trust of leader Kim Jong Il and helped arrange the 2007 inter-Korean summit, was vice chief of both bodies but disappeared from public view in spring last year. “North Korea launched a probe into corruption last spring. However it later escalated into a political purge as inter-Korean relations worsened,” Lee said.
“North Korea might have needed scapegoats. Reconciliation which blossomed under liberal governments in Seoul had caused a kind of admiration for South Korea among some party cadres and its people.” Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea studies professor at Dongguk University, also said Choe and other key figures appeared to have been fired. Military hard- liners now control inter-Korean projects, he added…
…Yonhap news agency said Monday the North executed Choe last year, blaming him for wrongly predicting Seoul’s new policy. “Despite hard-liners’ objections, Choe had strongly pushed for progress in relations with the South (under the previous government),” it quoted a source as saying. “But inter-Korean relations deteriorated after the government change in the South and he was blamed for the ‘misjudgments’ and all other fallout.”
Lee of Good Friends cast doubt on Choe’s reported death sentence, saying there had been no word yet on his execution. Professor Kim said it was “hard to believe” Choe had been executed but he might have been sent to a re-education camp or to the countryside. South Korea’s unification ministry had no comment on the Yonhap report.
May 24, 2009: It has been revealed that Choe Sung Chol, who was in charge of North Korean relations with South Korea, was fired and executed last year. The new South Korean government has reversed a policy of giving North Korea lots of goodies with no strings attached. South Korea now wants North Korea to halt developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. North Korea takes this as a hostile act and an attempt to overthrow the communist police state in North Korea. Choe Sung Chol was apparently held personally responsible for the new South Korean government coming to power, and killed for this failure. Choe Sung Chol may also been caught taking payments from South Korean corporations, and that was what he was officially charged with.