'Executed' North Korean general named to senior party posts

Military officials stand above other participants during a mass rally and parade in the capital's main ceremonial square, in Pyongyang, North Korea, on May 10, 2016.
Military officials stand above other participants during a mass rally and parade in the capital's main ceremonial square, in Pyongyang, North Korea, on May 10, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea's former military chief of staff who was reported executed earlier this year is apparently alive and well after being named Tuesday (May 10) in a number of senior ruling party posts.

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

Although the reports were never confirmed by Pyongyang, North Korea named a new chief of staff, 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 on Tuesday, Ri Yong Gil's name appeared on a list of the newly-elected members of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) 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 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, Kim had his influential uncle, Jang Song Thaek, executed in December 2013 for charges including treason and corruption.