North Korean state media on Sunday confirmed the country has a new military chief following earlier reports in Seoul that the previous holder of the post had been executed.
Ri Myong-su was again mentioned in a separate KCNA report on Kim’s inspection of an air force exercise.
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His predecessor Ri Yong-gil was reportedly executed early this month in what would be the latest in a series of purges and executions of top officials.
Ri Yong-gil was accused of forming a political faction and corruption, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said, citing a source familiar with North Korean affairs.
In May last year South Korea’s spy agency said Kim had his defence chief Hyon Yong-chol executed -- reportedly with an anti-aircraft gun.
Hyon’s fate was never confirmed by Pyongyang but he has never been seen or heard of since. Some analysts have suggested he was purged and imprisoned.
Reports – some confirmed, some not – of purges, executions and disappearances have been common since Kim 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 military.
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In the most high-profile case, Kim had his influential uncle Jang Song-thaek executed in December 2013 for charges including treason and corruption.
Professor Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said the new military chief was one of Kim’s top three aides and was known to be well-versed in missile technology.
North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test last month and launched a long-range rocket this month, sparking international outrage.