Updated 01:49 PM EST, Wed, Jan 27, 2021

North Korea's Army Chief of Staff Ri Yong-gil Executed for Corruption

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The army chief of staff in North Korea has reportedly been executed due to corruption allegations.

Citing media reports in South Korea, BBC said Ri Yong-gil was killed just this month due to corruption as well as "factional conspiracy."

It noted that he is the newest top official in the country who has been executed after other high-ranking officers have also disappeared from the public's eye.

The Guardian added that that Ri's execution was done at a time when there was heightened tension in Korea due to the North's rocket launch and nuclear testings.

The same report also mentioned his name was not included in reports during the celebration and meetings for the rocket launch over the weekend.

A source from a South Korean newspaper, as per The Guardian, claimed that this recent purge is a sign that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea supreme leader is "still insecure" of his powers.

Sought for comment, the National Intelligence Service in Seoul has not given their statement on the unverified report.

Meanwhile, Independent claimed that though it is extremely difficult to confirm the report from the country, Ri reportedly had a falling out with Kim starting in 2014.

Reports surfaced later on that the army chief of staff will be replaced by General Pyon In Son, who is now the operations leader of the Korean People's Army.

But Independent claimed that Pyon was also executed early last year when he was removed from service after he failed to obey instructions. They were also corruption claims.

The recent execution is said to be another high-profile one since the purge of Km's own uncle, Jang Song Thaek in 2013.

Jang's death was claimed to be a needed move for Kim at that time to make sure that he stays in power.

"He had to go. To really start running the country Kim must get rid of the old guard. They are so much older; they are in their sixties and seventies and he is in his thirties," explained North Korea expert Andrei Lankov in the Independent report.

As for Ri, the general rose into power during the leadership of Kim Jong-il in 2002. According to BBC, his last public appearance was last month with Kim when they conducted a nuclear test.

Another North Korean specialist Mike Madden mentioned in the same report that Ri seemed to have already been replaced by Ri Myong-su, who appeared in a Pyongyang rally just recently.

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