SEOUL-- Britain has urged North Korea to improve its dismal human rights record in the latest international pressure on leader Kim Jong-un.

"We continue to have grave concerns about the DPRK's disregard for, and violations of, international human rights norms and obligations," the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in an annual report on human rights and democracy posted on its website. "The UK continued to urge the DPRK Government to acknowledge the existence and extent of its human rights violations and to demonstrate a willingness to take steps to address these issues." DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The report said the British top envoy to North Korea and other British diplomats raised human rights issues at several meetings with North Korean officials in Pyongyang. British officials also called on North Korea to allow the U.N. special rapporteur to visit the isolated country.

North Korea has rejected a request to visit to Pyongyang by Tomas Ojea Quintana, the U.N. point man on North Korean human rights conditions. Earlier this week, he was in Seoul on a trip meant to prepare a report to be presented to a U.N. General Assembly in October on North Korea's human rights situation.

North Korea's human rights record has drawn greater international attention since the U.N. Commission of Inquiry issued a report in 2014 after a year-long probe, saying that North Korean leaders are responsible for "widespread, systematic and gross" violations of human rights.

North Korea has long been accused of grave human rights abuses, ranging from holding political prisoners in concentration camps to committing torture and carrying out public executions.

Still, North Korea has bristled at outside criticism, calling it a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said Britain will continue to support small-scale humanitarian project activities in North Korea.

Source: Yonhap News Agency