Thirty officials of the North Korean regime who were involved in talks with South Korea have been executed or died in "staged traffic accidents," according to a human rights report.
Shin Dong-hyuk poses with book Escape from Camp 14: In 2005, Shin escaped North Korea's Camp 14, a prison holding political enemies of the state Photo: REUTERS
By Julian Ryall in Tokyo
In its annual study, Amnesty International claimed that in addition to the 30 who died in purges last year, a further 200 were rounded up in January this year by the State Security Agency as Pyongyang carried out the transfer of power from Kim Jong-il, who died of an apparent heart attack in December, and his 29-year-old son, Kim Jong-un.
Of those 200, Amnesty said, some were apparently executed and the remainder were sent to political prison camps. The gulag system presently contains an estimated 200,000 people in "horrific conditions," the group said.
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North Korea has a habit of executing bureaucrats who are perceived to have failed the regime, even though they are often merely carrying out the orders of higher-ranking officials or members of the ruling family.
In 2010, Pak Nam-gi, the former head of the finance department of the Workers' Party, was reportedly executed by firing squad for the catastrophic attempt to reform the impoverished nation's currency. The result was rampant inflation and food shortages became even more acute.
The 30 men executed for failing to improve Pyongyang's ties with Seoul are considered scapegoats for the new low point in inter-Korean ties.