Officials in North Korea, a country notorious for its botched human rights record, are denying claims that they received the autobiography Mein Kampf, written by Germany's former dictator Adolf Hitler, as a gift from Kim Jong Un, leader of the Asian country.
North Korea's Ministry of People's Security issued a response this week to the claims via the country's mouthpiece, Korea Central News Agency, saying the original news report regarding the book was an attempt at a "smear campaign" produced by "a handful of human scum."
"We are […] determined to take substantial measures to physically remove despicable human scum who are committing treasons," a statement from the ministry and reported by the KCNA read, according to Canada's National Post.
"Sordid human scum will never be able to look up to the sky nor be able to find an inch of land to be buried after their death," the statement added, calling the original news report a "thrice-cursed crime."
The North Korean officials also claimed that those behind the original news report were being used by South Korea and the U.S., according to BBC News.
A recent news report by New Focus International, a news portal written largely by North Korean defectors, claimed that North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, had given Hitler's autobiography, Mein Kampf, which translates to English "My Struggle," as a gift to his top officials on his birthday last January.
The purpose of the gift, according to New Focus International, was for North Korean officials to focus on Hitler's ability to rebuild Germany shortly after World War One ended, rather than focus on the themes of racism, especially anti-Semitism, also found in the book.
"Kim Jong-un gave a lecture to high-ranking officials, stressing that we must pursue the policy of Byungjin [Korean for 'in tandem'] in terms of nuclear and economic development," the news source quoted an unnamed North Korean official in China as saying.
According to The Washington Post, the term "byungjin" translates literally to "in tandem," and refers to the country's goal of developing nuclear and economic programs simultaneously.
The unnamed North Korean official reportedly continued: "Mentioning that Hitler managed to rebuild Germany in a short time following its defeat in WWI, Kim Jong-un issued an order for the Third Reich to be studied in depth and asked that practical applications be drawn from it."
The report also indicated that Kim Jong Un stressed the importance of sports to Germany's success and unity as a country, and encouraged the asian country's propaganda department to promote a Three Child policy for family planning.
Shirley Lee, international editor for New Focus, told The Washington Post via email that she sees a correlation between the "intimidating charisma" of Adolf Hitler, who ruled Germany for 21 years before committing suicide in 1945, and Kim Jong Un.
"One source says there have been many overt attempts to imbue Kim Jong Un with an 'intimidating charisma,' such as having him shout very forcefully at associates [Kim Jong Il was never seen to do such a thing] and even throwing things at people," Lee wrote in an email to The Washington Post.
"According to another source, this may explain why the [official state newspaper] Rodong Sinmun has been showing photos of Kim Jong Un looking angry and scary – again, unprecedented in the history of Kim presentation," Lee added.
North Korea has long been criticized internationally for its botched human rights record, which has been especially cruel to Christians in the country, as practicing Christianity in North Korea is illegal and punishable by forced labor in concentration camps or in some cases, public execution.
The Asian country has been on human rights watchdog Open Doors USA's list as the No.1 Christian persecutor for 11 straight years.
Additionally, Kim Jong Un, who took over as leader of the country after his father Kim Jong Il passed away in 2011, has been accused as living an opulent lifestyle while one in every three children in the country is chronically malnourished or stunted, meaning too short for their age, according to the World Food Program.