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North Korea

There Shall Be No God But Kim: Religious Freedom in North Korea

For years, Deacon Jang Moon Seok ministered to North Koreans living in Changbai, China until he was kidnapped by North Korean agents in November 2014. The agents snuck across the border, abducted the deacon, and formally arrested him once he was on North Korean soil. Deacon Jang was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. He was tortured for information about Han Chung-Ryeol, a high-profile pastor also working in Changbai whom North Korean agents assassinated in 2016.

North Korea Policy Update

Religious freedom conditions in North Korea remain among the worst in the world, yet the U.S. government has tended to treat security-related concerns as in tension with—if not outright opposition to—concerns about human rights. This policy update presents a new approach, loosely modeled on the 1975 Helsinki Accords, that treats U.S. security and human rights objectives as complementary rather than contradictory. USCIRF recommends that U.S. negotiators accept a freeze on North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and missiles—rather than full denuclearization—in return for greater transparency and promises to respect human rights. Such a deal could prevent the security situation on the Korean Peninsula from further deteriorating, while at the same time laying the groundwork for gradual improvements in religious freedom in the country. The policy update highlights applicable lessons from the negotiation and implementation of the Helsinki Accords.

USCIRF Disappointed UN Security Council Did Not Discuss Religious Freedom in North Korea

WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today expresses disappointment that the United Nations Security Council did not hold a special meeting specifically to address North Korea’s human rights and religious freedom record on International Human Rights Day (December 10) this year. Between 2014-2017, the Security Council had held special meetings on Human Rights Day focused on North Korea. On December 11, the Security Council did hold a meeting focused on North Korea’s missile tests and nuclear program.

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