north korea military chief executed
Picture: North Korea's army chief of staff Ri Yong Gil makes a speech in Pyongyang Aug. 24, 2014, in this still image taken from KRT file video footage. North Korea has executed its army chief of staff, Ri Yong Gil, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Feb. 10, 2016,Reuters

North Korea has executed its army chief Ri Yong Gil on charges of corruption and factional conspiracy, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday.

Ri Yong Gil, who was appointed the chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army in August 2013, was reportedly executed last week. Besides corruption, he also faced charges of pursuing personal gains, Yonhap quoted its source as saying.

Reuters also quoted a source confirming the report of his execution.

"Ri Yong-gil is known to have been faithful to principles, so it appears the North cited (the charges) to justify his execution," the Yonhap source said.

The report further suggest that Ri did not attend the celebrations of launch of a satellite on Sunday. His name was also missing on the guest list for the celebrations, and by General Ri Myong-su's.

Ri Yong Gil may have been executed for objecting to the appointment of party leaders to key military posts, the source said.

"This shows that Kim Jong-un is very nervous about the armed forces. It also shows his reign of terror continues," he added.

Since coming to power in 2011 after his father's death, Kim has reportedly executed several officials holding key posts. As of May 2015, Kim had ordered the execution of 15 senior officials, including two vice-ministers, for questioning his authority, AFP said, citing South Korea's National Intelligence Agency.

Pyongyang executed its defence minister Hyon Yong-Chol last year with anti-aircraft fire for dozing off at a formal military rally. In 2013, Kim had his uncle and political mentor Jang Song-Thaek executed for corruption.