'Executed' N. Korean general alive after all

SEOUL • North Korea's former military chief of staff who was reportedly executed earlier this year is apparently alive and well. He was named as holding a number of senior ruling party posts yesterday.

Intelligence reports in South Korea had suggested that General Ri Yong Gil, former chief of the Korean People's Army General Staff, was executed in February on accusations of corruption and forming a political faction.

Although the reports were never confirmed by Pyongyang, the reclusive regime named a new chief of staff, Mr Ri Myong Su, in the same month.

The change came at a time of highly elevated tensions on the divided Korean peninsula following the North's nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch.

But yesterday, Gen Ri's name appeared on a list of the newly elected members of the Workers' Party of Korea central committee, as an alternate member of the politburo and a member of the party's central military commission.

Reports - some confirmed, some not - of purges, executions and disappearances have been common since Mr Kim Jong Un took power following the death of his father Kim Jong Il in December 2011.

A large number of senior officials, especially military cadres, were removed or demoted as the young leader sought to solidify his control over the powerful army.

In the most high-profile case, Mr Kim had his influential uncle Jang Song Thaek executed in December 2013 on various charges including treason and corruption.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline ''Executed' N. Korean general alive after all'. Print Edition | Subscribe