Kim Jong Un has made a rare public appearance after five government officials who spoke out against the regime’s economic policies were reportedly executed.
The North Korean leader inspected reconstruction work in a flood-hit area in Unpha County, North Hwanghae Province, state media KCNA reported on Saturday.
A series of typhoons and the wettest monsoon battered several parts of the country in recent weeks.
Kim said the North Korean economy “has faced trouble and distress at the great damage caused by the recent series of heavy rain and typhoons,” according to KCNA.
The leader expressed satisfaction on the progress of the reconstruction in Taechong-ri, a village in North Hwanghae province, the report said.
After surveying typhoon damage earlier this week in his impoverished country, Kim told Workers’ Party loyalists they would have to rethink plans for an economy already hobbled by sanctions and more recently restrictions designed to contain the novel coronavirus.
It comes as five Economic Ministry employees were shot by firing squad on July 30 after details of their conversations emerged at a dinner party and were reported back to their bosses, according to DailyNK.
The men had openly discussed the need for industrial reform in the militarised nation state which produces few consumer goods for its impoverished citizens.
The officials had also apparently discussed the need for North Korea to seek foreign cooperation to help overcome devastating trade sanctions.
They also expressed fears that the stagnant economy would get even worse if improvements were not made quickly.
The men, who were considered highly competent officials within the ministry, were summoned to a meeting where they were arrested by the secret police and forced to confess to undermining the regime.
The executions have concerned Communist Party officials who fear a return to the purges which hit the country following former the death of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il in 2011.
Last week, a think tank warned Kim could be preparing the launch of a submarine ballistic missile.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies said satellite images it published on its website of North Korea’s Sinpo shipyard showed several vessels within a secure boat basin.
It said one of the boats resembled vessels previously used to tow a submersible test stand barge out to sea.
The think tank said the activity was “suggestive, but not conclusive, of preparations for an upcoming test of a Pukguksong-3 submarine launched ballistic missile from the submersible test stand barge.”