N KOREA STILL COUNTRY OF CONCERN ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: US COMMISSION
The United States Commision for Religious Freedom says North Korea does not allow its people religious freedom. However, there is much evidence that faith is growing in North Korea.
SEOUL, May 08, 2008 (AsiaPulse via COMTEX) — — A U.S. commission recommended on May 2 that the State Department re-designate North Korea a “country of particular concern” for religious persecution, as has been done since 2001.
The Commission on International Religious Freedom updated its annual report this year with interviews of 38 additional North Korean refugees who testified to harsh treatment of repatriated North Koreans who admit or are found to have had contact with South Korean humanitarian organizations while hiding in China, or to having converted to Christianity.
Former police officials interviewed said Pyongyang views such religious contact and conversion as a “security threat,” said the report.
Created under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the commission works independently of the executive branch. Its report goes to the president and secretary of state.
North Korea’s police recently started new measures to halt distribution of religious literature and to uncover clandestine religious activities by infiltrating churches in China and setting up mock prayer meetings in North Korea to entrap converts, according to the report.
Pyongyang tightly controls all means of transmitting information, including cellular phones, and in October executed the head of a factory in front of 150,000 people because he had made international phone calls, it said.
But despite such oppression, the commission said again this year that it “continues to receive credible reports that underground religious activity, or that which takes place outside of government sanction and control, is growing.” [Go to Full Story]