October 17, 2016 - 2:47 AM
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - A veteran North Korean diplomat who South Korean media say may have been purged has reappeared in public but without his senior Foreign Ministry job title.
South Korean media speculated that Kung Sok Ung, the North's vice foreign minister for European affairs, may have been banished to a rural farm as punishment following Seoul's August announcement that the No. 2 diplomat in North Korea's London embassy defected to South Korea.
Kung hadn't appeared in reports from the North's Korean Central News Agency since Aug. 24. But a KCNA dispatch Sunday said he joined diplomats at a sports game in North Korea, identifying him as a former vice minister.
It's rare for North Korea's state media to mention the presence of a former government official, and South Korean media said it may mean that he will assume another government post.
North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, has overseen a series of purges, including the execution of his own uncle, the country's former No. 2 official.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016