North Korea has executed its army chief of staff, Ri Yong Gil, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday, which, if true, would be the latest in a series of executions, purges, and disappearances under the country’s young leader.
The news comes amid heightened tension surrounding the isolated North Korea after its Sunday launch of a long-range rocket, about a month after it drew international condemnation for conducting its fourth nuclear test.
A source familiar with North Korean affairs also told Reuters that Ri had been executed. The source declined to be identified, given the sensitivity of the matter.
Ri, who was chief of the Korean People’s Army General Staff, was executed this month for corruption and factional conspiracy, Yonhap and other South Korean media reported.
Yonhap did not identify its sources. The source who told Reuters the news declined to comment on how the information about the execution had been obtained.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service declined to comment, and it was not possible to independently verify the report.