The human rights organization Amnesty International claimed on Friday that North Korea had killed at least 30 officials last year and rounded up 200 more in January of this year, executing some and sending others to political prison camps.
The Telegraph said the State Security Agency rounded up the 200 as power was transferred from the late Kim Jong-il to his son, Kim Jong-un.
The 30 who were executed last year became scapegoats after they failed to improve ties with South Korea, taking the fall for the low point in the relationship between the north and south. The Telegraph noted that North Korean officials often shoulder the blame on failed policies even when they are carrying out orders from higher up.
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Yahoo News said the report suggested the men were executed by firing squads or staged traffic accidents.
The political prison camps reportedly contain 200,000 prisoners, held in horrific conditions where they are tortured and forced to do dangerous work, according to the report.
On Thursday, the US State Department said that human rights conditions in North Korea remained "extremely poor."
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The 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices noted: "Citizens did not have the right to change their government. The government subjected citizens to rigid controls over many aspects of their lives, including denial of the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement and worker rights," according to the South Korean Yonhap news agency.
Meanwhile, China, one of North Korea's only allies, has launched a campaign to decrease illegal immigration from North Korea into China, according to the BBC. China routinely repatriates North Koreans who slip across the border to escape poverty and persecution.