Unconfirmed media reports circulating throughout the Pacific Rim are suggesting North Korean military officer, General Ri Yong-gil, Chief of North Korea’s General Staff — the top military official in the Korean People’s Army — has been executed.
General Ri was the third-highest-ranking military official in the North Korean military structure, immediately subordinate to North Korean Minister of Defense, General Pak Yong-sik, and Supreme Commander, Kim Jong-un.
South Korean news agency, Yonhap, reports General Ri was accused of corruption and conspiring to form political opposition to Mr. Kim’s rule.
No information as to the method of execution has emerged. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service refused to publicly comment on Yonhap’s news report.
General Ri reportedly fell from grace in late 2015 and was not seen at a recent rally in Pyongyang or at the Feb. 7 launch of a long-range missile. North Korean media have omitted references to Ri since earlier this year.
Ri’s alleged execution is the most recent in a string of death sentences for high ranking military and political leaders in the hermit state.
In 2013, Kim’s uncle and instructor, Jang Song-thaek, was accused of being involved in counter-revolutionary activities, immediately before being stripped from posts and expelled from the Workers’ Party of Korea. Unsubstantiated reports claimed that he was executed by a pack of feral dogs, but Pyongyang, in an uncharacteristic move, denied the method when it did announce his death.
General Ri’s predecessor, General Hyon Yong-cho, was killed in May 2015 for allegedly showing disloyalty to Kim. Akin to Jang, speculation persisted for weeks Hyon was executed in view of North Korea’s leadership organ by an anti-aircraft gun, but no confirmation was given as to Hyon’s death or the method of execution.
[The Guardian] [BBC] [Photo courtesy BBC]