North Korea's state media reported Tuesday that leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong accompanied him to a performance at a Pyongyang stadium the previous day, the first time it has reported her status in three months.
The Chosun Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper, reported last Friday that Kim Yo Jong had been told to lay low following the breakdown of a U.S.-North Korea summit in Vietnam in late February, after which other officials were reportedly purged.
The close confidante to Kim Jong Un had accompanied him to the Hanoi summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, which ended abruptly without a deal amid differences over the scope of North Korea's denuclearization in exchange for sanctions relief.
(Kim Yo Jong, second from left)
A photo of the performance featured on Tuesday's front page of The Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, shows Kim Yo Jong seated next to Kim Jong Un's wife Ri Sol Ju.
The event to which Kim Yo Jong accompanied her brother was a gymnastics and artistic performance titled "The Land of the People," held at the May Day Stadium, the Korean Central News Agency reported.
(Kim Yo Jong, front left, pictured in September 2018 in Pyongyang with her brother Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In)
[Pyeongyang Press Corps/Kyodo]
Friday's South Korean report also claimed Kim Yong Chol, a close aide to Kim Jong Un and vice chairman of the Workers' Party, had been sent to do hard labor for his role in the summit's breakdown.
But North Korean media reported Monday that Kim Yong Chol attended an amateur musical performance delivered by the wives of military officers on Sunday. Kim Jong Un and his wife also attended, according to the KCNA report.
Meanwhile, North Korean media have not reported the status of North Korea's special representative for U.S. affairs Kim Hyok Chol, who the Chosun Ilbo report said was executed in March on a charge of spying for the United States.
But given recent North Korean media accounts seem to contradict reports of a purge, observers are increasingly skeptical about the newspaper's report that Kim Hyok Chol was shot dead, along with four other senior officials.
Kim Hyok Chol had led his country's preparations for the Feb. 27-28 summit.