North Korea's Army chief Ri Yong-ho was apparently ousted for defying orders and moving troops near Pyongyang during a military exercise, South Korean intelligence said Thursday. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars were also discovered during a raid on his home.
"Analysis of intelligence shows Ri Yong-ho's ouster was a punitive measure taken due to his uncooperative attitude" as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sought to tighten his grip on the military, a lawmaker quoted the National Intelligence Service as telling the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee.
The troop move drew the ire of Ri's main rivals Jang Song-taek, the uncle and guardian of leader Kim Jong-un, and Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae. The discovery of the money apparently provided valuable evidence for Choe to accuse him of corruption.
North Korea's military elite controlled 70 percent of the country's businesses that brought in foreign currency under late leader Kim Jong-il and became a state within a state. But it lost control of those companies to the Workers Party after Kim Jong-un came to power, and Ri was apparently targeted for being at the heart of a group of disgruntled officers.
"Ri's uncooperative attitude included unilaterally repositioning the troops and expressing dissatisfaction over the transfer of control to the party of the North's businesses that generate foreign currency," the NIS added.