North Korea executed five communist party officials after they spoke out against the regime’s economic policies, it has been reported.

The men had openly discussed the need for industrial reform in the militarised nation state which produces few consumer goods for its impoverished citizens.

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The government 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.

Their discussions soon reached the heads of the Economic Ministry who reported their actions to the authorities prompting an internal investigation.

The unsuspecting 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 regieme.

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All five Economic Ministry workers were shot by firing squad on July 30, according to DailyNK.

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.

This week it was reported that Kim Jong-un displayed his uncle’s head after executing the powerful general and other family members by firing squad.

General Jang Song-thaek was subjected to a firing squad on his dictator nephew’s orders, while earlier reports suggested his body was then stripped naked and fed to dogs.

Kim Jong-un then reportedly put his uncle’s head on display for others to see.

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