SEOUL (Reuters) -- North Korea has executed its army chief of staff, Ri Yong Gil, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday, which, if true, would be the latest in a series of executions, purges and disappearances under its young leader.
The news comes amid heightened tension surrounding isolated North Korea after its Sunday launch of a long-range rocket, which came about a month after it drew international condemnation for conducting its fourth nuclear test.
3) Then it was off to Switzerland to attend boarding school.
Called "Pak Un" and described as the son of an employee of the North Korean embassy, Jong Un is thought to have attended an English-language international school in Gümligen near Bern.
4) Jong Un loved basketball and idolized Michael Jordan.
The young Korean reportedly had posters of Jordan all over his walls during his Swiss school days. Although Jong Un was overweight and only 5-6, he was a decent basketball player.
(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
5) After school in Switzerland, he returned home for military schooling.
Upon his return to North Korea, Jong Un attended Kim Il Sung Military University with his older brother. Some reports say they started to attend their father's military field inspections around 2007.
(Photo by Liu Xingzhe/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
6) Jong Un has a theme song known as "Footsteps."
"Footsteps" looks and sounds like a propaganda song from the Soviet Union.
7) Many North Koreans see Jong Un as a youthful version of "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung.
Kim bears a clear resemblance to his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, in appearance, haircut, and mannerisms.
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
10) But at the end of December 2013, Jong Un had his uncle and his uncle's family executed, apparently in a bid to stop a coup against his rule.
12) Jong Un lived out a childhood fantasy when former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman visited.
Everyone in the family is apparently a huge Chicago Bulls fans.
(Photo courtesy of VICE)
13) But recently, things haven't been going so well.
In 2013 he was reportedly the target of an assassination attempt. South Korean intelligence believes the young leader was targeted by "disgruntled people inside the North" after he demoted a four-star general, which resulted in a power struggle.
(Photo courtesy: DPRK)
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The North rarely issues public announcement related to purges or executions of high-level officials.
A rare official confirmation of a high-profile execution came after Jang Song Thaek, leader Kim Jong Un's uncle and the man who was once considered the second most powerful figure in the country, was executed for corruption in 2013.
In May last year, the North executed its defense chief by anti-aircraft gun at a firing range, the South's spy agency said in a report to members of parliament.
The North's military leadership has been in a state of perpetual reshuffle since Kim Jong Un took power after the death of his father in 2011. He has changed his armed forces chief several times since then.
Some other high-ranking officials in the North have been absent from public view for extended periods, fueling speculation they may have been purged or removed, only to resurface.