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Ri Yong-gil (리영길, born 1955[1]) is a North Korean military officer and first deputy chief of the Korean People's Army. He is believed to have been in his 60s when appointed to his position as a general in 2013.[2]

Ri Yong-gil
Revised RomanizationI Yeonggil
McCune–ReischauerRi Yŏnggil
Ri (right) at the 2019 Kim–Putin meeting

Ri was made a Lieutenant General in April 2002 and given command of the forward-deployed 3rd Army Corps from 2002 to 2007, and later the 5th Army Corps from 2007 to 2012.[3][4]

He was promoted to colonel general and elected an alternate member of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in 2010.[3] He was promoted to chief of the General Staff Operations Bureau in late 2012, in charge of coordinating KPA corps commanders and reporting to the chief of General Staff and the Supreme Command.[citation needed]

Ri was appointed Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army in August 2013[5] as well as promoted to general around the same time.

It was announced during the May 2016 Party Congress that Ri had been appointed a member of the Central Committee of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, as well as its Central Military Commission. General Ri was named an alternate member of the Politburo.[6] As of April 2017, state media identified Ri as first deputy chief of the General Staff and director of the General Operations Bureau of the Korean People's Army.[7]. At 27 July 2018 KCNA reported that the general was again promoted 4 stars general and again Chief of the General Staff of Korean People Army [8]

Inaccurate reports of deathEdit

In early February 2016, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that Ri had recently been executed on charges of corruption and forming a political faction.[9][10][11]

The unconfirmed rumour was widely circulated in mass media. In May 2016 the South Korean government announced that he appeared to be still alive.[12] Ri was shown in official North Korean state media accounts of the historic event of the first Workers' Party Congress held in North Korea in 36 years. The same South Korean government official who in February stated that Ri was "[executed] for factionalism, misuse of authority, and corruption" concluded that he had incorrect information and "we [South Korea] came to believe that he was not executed."[13]


  1. ^ "Gen. Ri Yong Gil". North Korea Leadership Watch. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  2. ^ "North Korea leader may have replaced army chief: Analysts". Straits Times. Agence France Presse. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b Gause, Ken E. (9 September 2013). "North Korean Leadership Dynamics and Decision-making under Kim Jong-un" (PDF). Center for Naval Analyses. p. 26. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  4. ^ Lim, Andy (21 April 2014). "Kim Jong-un's New Entourage". Center for Strategic and International Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 September 2014.
  5. ^ Ryall, Julian (30 August 2013). "Kim Jong-un purges North Korea's army chief". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  6. ^ Sang-Hun, Choe (10 May 2016). "North Korean General, Thought to Be Executed, Resurfaces". New York Times. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Withnall, Adam (10 February 2016). "Kim Jong-un has reportedly just executed the chief of his own military". The Independent. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  10. ^ "North Korea 'executes' army chief of staff Ri Yong-gil". BBC News. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  11. ^ "North Korea 'executes chief of staff Ri Yong-gil', according to reports". The Guardian. Agence France-Presse. 10 February 2016. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  12. ^ Gale, Alastair (10 May 2016). "North Korean General, Reported Executed, Appears to Be Alive". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  13. ^ Walking dead? N. Korean military leader turns up at party congress after 'execution' RT, 11 May, 2016 11:05
Military offices
Preceded by
Kim Myong-guk
Chief of the General Staff Operations Bureau
Succeeded by
Pyon In-son
Preceded by
Kim Kyok-sik
Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army
Succeeded by
Ri Myong-su
Preceded by
Ri Myong-su
Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army
Succeeded by