North Korea says it has removed top military chief Ri Yong Ho, a close mentor to leader Kim Jong Un, from all his posts.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported on Monday that the ruling Workers’ Party leadership had agreed to relieve Ri of all his posts for illness.
But details about the 69-year-old’s health have not been disclosed.
Ri became army chief in 2009 with the official title of Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army.
In 2010 when Kim Jong Un emerged as heir apparent to his late father Kim Jong Il, Ri was named vice chairman of the central military commission of the Workers’ Party and a member of the Presidium of the party’s Political Bureau.
Ri was among the top officials to accompany Kim Jong Un when he attended the hearse carrying the body of Kim Jong Il during his funeral last December. Ri was also seen with Kim Jong Un earlier this month when the young leader visited a palace where the body of North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung lies in state.
Experts suspect Ri’s removal is a sign of power struggles within the country’s new leadership.