He played 15 matches in 2010 World Cup qualifying for Korea DPR, including keeping a clean sheet in the decisive final group game against Saudi Arabia. After the match, he stated "I felt like I was defending the gateway to my motherland". His performances also saw him nominated for the 2009 Asian Footballer of the Year award. Ri was Korea DPR:s first choice in goal in FIFA World Cup 2010. He played all Korea DPR:s three World Cup matches including 7-0 loss to Portugal.