News broke this afternoon of an escalation of words between North Korea and President Donald Trump, with the President releasing a statement warning North Korea not to escalate the situation any further.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening — beyond a normal statement — and as I said, they will be met with fire, fury and, frankly, power the likes of which the world has never seen before,” Trump said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an event this afternoon.
Tensions have already been high since American Otto Warmbier died after serving time in a North Korean prison.
As Faithwire has reported, it is widely understood that there is virtually no such thing as religious freedom in North Korea, and a report released recently sheds light on just how dire the situation is for Christians living in the hermit kingdom. In a 15-page document titled Total Denial: Violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief in North Korea, British-based human rights advocacy organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide offers troubling details on how Kim Jong-Un’s regime tortures, mutilates, and kills Christians.
As the report explains, religious freedom in North Korea is “largely non-existent” and faith-based persecution has been commonplace since the 1950s because religious beliefs are “seen as a threat to the loyalty demanded by the Supreme Leader.” While Christians are the main target of abuse, Buddhism and Shamanism are also practiced in the country and “suppressed to varying degrees.”
The 2017 World Watch List compiled by Open Doors lists North Korea as the “most oppressive place in the world for Christians” due to the country’s totalitarian regime and surveillance state that forces Christians “to hide their faith completely from government authorities, neighbors, and often, even their own spouses and children.” Many attempt to find freedom in South Korea or China, but those who are discovered are subject to imprisonment, labor camps, and, in extreme cases, death.
The CSW research further corroborated the Open Doors report, finding Christians “usually practice their faith in secret” as to avoid the punishment that awaits if they are found out.
“If discovered they are subject to detention and then likely taken to political prison camps (kwanliso),” the document reads. “Crimes against them in these camps include extra-judicial killing extermination, enslavement/forced labour, forcible transfer of population, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance, rape and sexual violence, and other inhumane acts.”
CSW goes to document some of the known instances of gruesome torture Christians have ensured in the country:
Documented incidents against Christians include being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges, and trampled underfoot. A policy of guilt by association applies, meaning that the relatives of Christians are also detained regardless of whether they share the Christian belief. Even North Koreans who have escaped to China, and who are or become Christians, are often repatriated and subsequently imprisoned in a political prison camp.
While Open Doors estimates there are approximately 300,000 Christians in North Korea and the South Korea-based Database Center for North Korean Human Rights finds that there are at least 123 religious institutions in the nation, most of them are Buddhist or Cheondoist temples. CSW found there are three Protestant churches, one Catholic cathedral, and a Russian Orthodox church in the capital city of Pyongyang, but they are state-sponsored churches used only for propaganda purposes.
“Although the buildings and religious services appear to suggest some degree of freedom of religion or belief, that freedom is extremely limited and may be aimed primarily at visitors and foreigners,” the CSW report says. “All the churches are found in Pyongyang and there is no record of church buildings existing anywhere else.”
While the history persecution and abuse in the hermit kingdom runs deep, CSW believes conditions can improve, if China and other UN Member States put pressure on Kim Jong-Un and his government to abide by international law, while working to provide a safe place for refugees to flee.
“North Korea should abide by international human rights instruments and international law, and cease its grave violations of human rights,” the report states. “Furthermore…China and other members of the international community must respect the principle of non-refoulement and extend asylum to persons fleeing North Korea, because of the real risk of extreme harm if repatriated.”
“Every effort must be made to seek accountability and justice for the North Korean people,” it continued, “who suffer human rights abuses on a scale unparalleled in the modern world.”
(H/T: Christian Post)