The chief of North Korea’s military has been executed on corruption and other charges, according to a South Korean news agency.
Gen Ri Yong-gil, chief of general staff of the Korean People’s Army, also faced charges of “pursuing personal gains”, Yonhap News agency quoted sources “familiar with North Korean affairs” as saying on Wednesday.
It cited one source as saying that Ri was executed last week around the time North Korean leader Kim Jong-un chaired a joint meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party and the military.
Ri, who was appointed to the post in 2013, had won Kim’s favour and accompanied him on several inspection trips to military exercises and the ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, the equivalent of the defence ministry, until last month.
However, he was absent from the joint meeting of the party and the military and events in Pyongyang to mark the successful launch of a satellite on Sunday, Yonhap reported.
The report could not be independently verified though there has been speculation that Ri had fallen out of favour with Kim since 2014.
Yonhap reported that Gen Ri Myong-su, a former minister of people’s security, may have replaced Ri Yong-gil as chief of general staff, said one source.
One source said Ri may have raised objections to Kim’s recent appointment of party leaders to key military posts. If confirmed, Ri’s removal comes less than a year after Kim executed his defence minister.