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. He had played 85 matches for his national team since his debut in 2007, making him the most capped player in the history of Korea DPR.