[imText1]Chairman Kang Young Sup of the Chosun Christian Alliance of North Korea met with the Association For Interaction Of Our People Representative, Song Ki Hak, and the Pyongyang Team from Korean Churches Manager, Pastor Baek Kwang Jin, who visited Pyongyang on the 5th. He said he would hold a public Christian assembly in North Korea next March.
An International Assembly is in the works, in which Christians from foreign countries, including the North and South, will attend the centenary of the Pyongyang Revival, the root of the Christian revival in Korea. The North has notably stated that 12,000 North Korean Christians will participate.
The impressions it that they want to make others believe that there are quite a number of Christians in North Korea, reflecting that the North Korean government does, in fact, care about the criticism from the international community regarding the lack of religious freedom in North Korea. It may, however, also be their goal to gain more aid through close interaction with South Korean religious groups.
Though the truth is that there really is no religious freedom in North Korea. People who come in contact with Christians are often sent to prison camps or are subject to public execution.
North Koreans have been taught that religion is a superstitious and unscientific way of understanding the world, and that religion originated from the recognition of nature as a supernatural being in a primitive time when there wasn’t enough understanding of the world.
In 1998, the revised North Korean constitution eliminated ‘the freedom to release anti-religious propaganda’ and stated the freedom to build religious buildings and hold religious ceremonies. However, that move was solely directed towards the international community, in order to avoid criticism. There is no truth behind the statement that religious freedom exists in North Korea.
Educational material for the people of North Korea published in July 2005 by the Chosun Worker’s Party says, “Let us destroy the conspiracies that foster religion in us”, regarding the issue of religious freedom mentioned by the US and the proselytization of South Korean missionaries. The policy regarding religion in North Korea hasn’t changed from the past.
Religious activities are considered crimes against the country, according to the testimonies of North Korean defectors in South Korea. Last month, it was reported that 30 Christians were sentenced to public execution when they were caught by the National Security Agency while holding a Christian service with people from Euijoo, Shin Eui Joo, Yong Chun and Yum Joo.
Even though religious freedom is harshly suppressed, some South Korean religious groups have denied such a lack of religious freedom in North Korea. North Korean believers in underground churches would undoubtedly feel betrayed and insulted by such statements.
Pastor Suh Kyung Suk, of the CCK, Human Rights Commission, led the way for humanitarian assistance and religious interaction for years, and declared that the Bongsu church is solely used for deceptive purposes, and that South Korean Christians should stop lining up to meet false North Korean believers; he may be on the right track.
When the believers turn away from the suppression of religion in North Korea only to show up forr a meeting with false Christians, the fight for religious freedom in North Korea has a long road ahead of it.
Before it is too late, more attention and care must be paid to the true believers who are executed and imprisoned in prison camps and are leading a life of misery.
It is said that it is ‘even worse when you don’t act, even though you are aware’. Christians should ask themselves what they need to do for the human rights and religious freedom of North Korea.