August 17, 2015 11:25
The chief of the North Korean Army's General Staff, Ri Yong-gil, and the chief of the General Bureau of Reconnaissance, Kim Yong-chol, have been absent from major state events recently, fueling speculation about their fate.
The official [North] Korean Central News Agency's report on leader Kim Jong-un's Saturday visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the embalmed bodies of nation founder Kim Il-sung and his son Jong-il are displayed, did not mention the two top officials, and they appear in none of the pictures.
The visit marked the 70th Liberation Day, a major event that would normally be attended by all top officials.
Ri was also absent from another ceremony on Friday marking the anniversary.
Ri and Kim were last seen on July 27, which marks the end of the Korean War and is celebrated as "Victory Day" in North Korea.
Some North Korea watchers believe Ri and Kim may have been busy trying to deal with the fallout from a mine attack that saw South Korea resume a propaganda broadcast campaign along the entire frontline.
One researcher at a state-run think tank said, "There are no signs that Ri Yong-gil and Kim Yong-chol have been sacked. There is a strong chance that they’re preparing for another military provocation."
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