North Korea's military chief General Ri Yong-gil has been executed on corruption charges, South Korean media reported, adding to several high profile purges of top officials in recent years.

The execution of Ri took place this month, Yonhap news agency reported citing trusted North Korean sources.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had executed his defence minister last year using anti-aircraft gun at a firing range.

The most scandalous execution in recent years was 2013 purge of Jang Song Thaek, Kim's uncle and once the second highest person in the hierarchy.

Yonhap said according to "informed sources" General Ri was executed for "factionalist and authoritarian corruption".

While the news of the execution could not be independently verified, Reuters reported one of its sources close o North Korean affairs also confirmed the news.

Ri was present alongside dictator Kim Jong-Un during the country's fourth nuclear test in January when Pyongyang said it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.

However, he as conspicuously absent when they conducted a rocket launch last week claiming to have put an earth satellite into orbit.

Ri was appointed as the chief of the General Staff of the North Korean People's Army in 2013. He had quickly won the trust of the perennially insecure Kim and accompanied him on every high profile military related events until January.

Ri Myong-su, a former minister of people's security, may have replaced the executed general, Yonhap says.

"Ri Yong-gil is known to have been faithful to principles, so it appears the North cited (the charges) to justify his execution," the source told the new agency.

Ri might have been killed shortly after the 2-3 February ruling Korean Workers' Party and army joint committee meeting, as his name was missing in the list of officials participating in the event.

Te report has no information on how Ri might have been executed.