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During interviews, some of 230 defectors reported seeing the public executions.
North Korea has convicted and executed three people for cannibalism since 2006 as the country continues to struggle with widespread hunger, according to a new report from a human rights group.
The Seoul-based, state-run Korean Institute for National Unification’s white paper on human rights outlines information from 230 defectors who reported seeing the public executions, the Yonhap News Agency said after reviewing sections of the report.
Some of those interviewed said the executions were for eating or selling human flesh.
Authorities executed one man for killing and eating parts of a co-worker then trying to sell the rest at a market as mutton.
Widespread food shortages forced another to kill and eat a girl three years ago in Hyesan, Yonhap reported.
A third incident of cannibalism was reported in 2011, but details are vague.
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Yonhap could not verify the allegations because of strict clampdowns on information coming from the North.
North Korea has long battled food shortages, especially after an attempt to reform its currency in 2009.
A North Korean official who defected in 2001 said about a dozen incidents of cannibalism surfaced in that country as far back as 1999, Yonhap said.
There were also allegations of cannibalism after a massive famine in the late 1990s killed 2 million.
Renewed reports of cannibalism come after another human rights group accused North Korea of operating a system of secret gulag-style prison camps, The Associated Press reported.
As many as 200,000 political prisoners occupy the camps, said the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea based in Washington, DC.
Based on satellite imagery and interviews with escapees and former guards, the committee said entire families are sometimes imprisoned for the political crimes of one person.
The North Korean government denies the prisons exist, the AP reported.
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