Ri Myong-Su, former People's Security Minister, was referred to as "chief of the Korean People's Army General Staff" when a News Agency (KCNA) reported on an army exercise guided by leader Kim Jong-Un.

His predecessor Ri Yong-Gil was reportedly executed early this month in what would be the latest in a series of purges and executions of top officials.

Ri Yong-Gil was accused of forming a political faction and corruption, South Korean news agency said, citing a source familiar with North Korean affairs.

In May last year South Korea's spy agency said Kim had his defence chief Hyon Yong-Chol executed - reportedly with an anti-aircraft gun.

Hyon's fate was never confirmed by Pyongyang but he has never been seen or heard of since. Some analysts have suggested he was purged and imprisoned.

A large number of senior officials, especially military cadres, were removed or demoted as the young leader sought to solidify his control over the powerful military.

In the most high-profile case, Kim had his influential uncle Jang Song-Thaek executed in December 2013 for charges including treason and corruption.

Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said the new military chief was one of Kim's top three aides and was known to be well-versed in missile technology.

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