The official Korean Central News Agency said the performers on Monday showed "beautiful and graceful rhythmic movements, high-spirited gymnastics, interesting national emotion and rich artistic depiction", but also that Kim Jong-un was unhappy about their display. The mass games events were once routine in North Korea but were on hiatus for several years during the mourning for Kim's father and only returned last year.
The Korea Society, a non-profit media platform, tweeted that Kim Yong Chol's presence at the art performance, alongside his leader Kim Jong Un, is "signaling that the former spymaster is alive and remains a force in North Korea's power structure".
A senior North Korean official appeared at an arts performance with the country's top brass, official media reported today, just three days after he was said to have been purged following the collapse of nuclear talks between leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.
On May 31, the South Korean conservative daily Chosun Ilbo reported that the regime had carried out a major purge after the failure of the denuclearisation summit with the United States in February in Hanoi which possibly included Kim Yo-Jong's temporary removal from her duties.
North Korea's nuclear envoy, who a South Korean newspaper said last week had been executed, is alive but in custody and under investigation for his role in a failed summit with the United States, CNN reported on Tuesday (June 4).
"The U.S. would be well-advised to change its current method of calculation and respond to our request as soon as possible", the official said in the statement.
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"He is not senior enough to make such a judgment", Chun Yungwoo, South Korea's former top envoy to global nuclear talks with North Korea, said before the CNN report.
"It's unlikely that Kim would issue extreme punishment unless he's giving up on the talks with the United States", he continued.
Nuclear negotiations have been at a standstill since the summit's collapse and Kim in recent weeks has dialed up pressure on Washington by resuming weapons tests and setting an end-of-year deadline for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage the diplomacy.
Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute, downplayed the possibility that Kim Hyok-chol had been executed, as it would be unfair for him to face the toughest punishment compared with Kim Yong-chul, who oversaw the denuclearization negotiations.
This image provided by the North Korean government shows the grand gymnastic and artistic performance at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang.
It contradicted a report by South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo that said on Friday Kim Hyok Chol was executed in March.
Kim Hyok-chol may appear alongside Kim Jong-un at a later date, as well.