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Ri Yong-Gil North Korea

May 11, 2016 by staff 

Ri Yong-Gil North Korea, Ri Yong Gil, a North Korean general reportedly executed earlier this year, appears to be alive. The Wall Street Journal reported that Ri was named among the Workers’ Party central military commission members in a statement issued by North Korea’s state-run media during a report on the ruling party’s congress, which ended Monday. North Korea’s main newspaper also ran a photo of Ri and other party leaders, noted the Journal.

South Korea intelligence, though, had issued a report in February that North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un had presided over Ri’s execution in an alleged effort to stamp out corruption.

The New York Times reported that South Korea’s cable channel MBN started to unravel Ri’s death rumor in March, reporting that the general had actually been demoted, not executed.

Photos of Ri released by North Korea state media Tuesday showed Ri wearing a three-star insignia instead of his usual four stars, supporting the demotion theory, stated the Times.

“South Korean intelligence officials say it is extremely difficult to get reliable information about developments within the North’s opaque government,” wrote the New York Times.

“Officials have disappeared from public view for months at a time, only to resurface later. Early last year, South Korean officials told reporters that Ma Won-chun, a senior general who was in charge of the renovation of the Pyongyang airport, had been purged. But General Ma, it appears, was simply demoted, and he resurfaced later in the year.”

That appeared to be what happened to Ri, who, according to The Associated Press, had not appeared at Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency until Tuesday, where he said that he was awarded new positions at the Workers’ Party congress.

Ri was reportedly named a member of the party’s central committee, alternate member of the committee’s political bureau, and a member of the party’s central military commission.

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