|Kim Jong-un (R) with Ri Yong-gil at a military parade in October 2015|
May 10, 2016: the North Korean state news media published list of officials newly selected for senior posts, which also includes Ri Yong-gil, a prominent general thought to be executed in February on corruption charges.
According to the North Korean reports, he is not only alive but a member of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, as well as its Central Military Commission.
The appointments were made during the Workers’ Party congress that ended on 9 May, the first such gathering in 36 years. General Ri was also named an alternate member of the Politburo, according to the reports.
General Ri had been chief of the North Korean Army’s general staff, the third-ranking figure in the army’s hierarchy, when his name abruptly stopped appearing in state media reports in January. In February, South Korean intelligence officials said General Ri had been executed, apparently the latest senior official to fall in a series of purges and executions that the North’s top leader, Kim Jong-un, has used to consolidate power.
Doubts about General Ri’s supposed execution emerged in March, when a South Korean cable channel, MBN, reported that General Ri had been demoted, not executed, and that he had been allowed to return to service.
Pictures released on 10 May by the North Korean state news media seemed to support that theory. General Ri was shown wearing a three-star rather than a four-star insignia, indicating he had been reduced in rank.
Source: The New York Times, May 10, 2016