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Unsolved: North Korea's persecution of Christians

The existence of nuclear weapons in the hands of a rogue dictator like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is the focal point of the summit with President Trump.

But the issue of the nation’s persecution of Christians still needs to be solved, says the leader of a Christian organization.

Trump confirmed that human rights was discussed during the summit, but there apparently was no agreement or promise.

“Try as it might, North Korea’s government has never wiped out Christianity,” noted Faith McDonnell, the international religious liberty director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

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“Some experts say that there are as many as 400,000 secret believers, most of whom became Christians in China or through contact with Chinese or South Korean Christians. They live in constant threat of imprisonment or execution,” she said after the summit in Singapore.

“We urge the Trump administration to follow the example of President Ronald Reagan who rightly linked the advancement of human rights, including religious freedom, with nuclear disarmament,” she said.

“Barring divine intervention, only a drastic, verifiable change in the way that Kim Jong Un treats his own people, including the so-called ‘hostiles,’ the Christians, may indicate the possibility of North Korea ending its own hostility towards the free world.”

The statement pointed out the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2018 report ranks North Korea as a “Tier One” country.

IRD cited a former North Korean prison guard’s testimony before Congress of the regime’s intense hatred for Christians.

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“In one incident he recounted a woman, in prison because she was a Christian, was kicked repeatedly and left for days because a prison guard overheard her praying for a child (Yes, children are in prison camps because the regime imprisons three generations of a family for the transgression of one member),” IRD reported.

“In prison factories, guards poured molten steel on Christians to kill them because believing in God instead of Kim Il-sung was the biggest crime in the eyes of the officials.”

A BBC documentary in 2004 revealed testimony about the government’s gassing of whole families.

WND reported last month USCIRF’s conclusion that Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all brought a new emphasis to the issue of freedom of religion around the world in 2017.

“For example, in February, President Trump called freedom of religion ‘a sacred right’ and noted the need to address threats against it, especially terrorism. In his April 14 weekly address, the president expressed hope for a future ‘where good people of all faiths, Christians and Muslims and Jewish and Hindu, can follow their hearts and worship according to their conscience,'” the report said.

“In June, Vice President Pence repeatedly stressed that the Trump administration would ‘condemn persecution of any faith in any place at any time’ and that ‘protecting and promoting religious freedom is a foreign policy priority’ of this administration. In August, then Secretary Tillerson stated: ‘Where religious freedom is not protected, we know that instability, human rights abuses, and violent extremism have a greater opportunity to take root … The Trump administration has committed to addressing these conditions in part by advancing international religious freedom around the world,” explained the recently released report.

Others making related comments included Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who promised the U.S. “will not ignore violations of human rights, including the right to religious freedom.” The December 2017 National Security Strategy document reflected that commitment.

It promises to champion American values, including by “supporting and advancing religious freedom – America’s first freedom.”

But the commission’s report, a document prepared annually to update the status of religious persecution around the globe, lists 16 nations as Tier 1 religious rights offenders, most appearing on the list again and again.

The countries are Burma, Central African Republic, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Most are dominated by either Muslim or communist leadership.

Tier 2 nations, which “engaged in or tolerated severe violations but are deemed to not meet all the criteria of the CPC test,” are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.

ISIS, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Al-Shabaab in Somalia, all Muslim organizations, were identified as “entities of particular concern.”

The commission, an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, is the first of its kind in the world. It reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations abroad and makes policy recommendations to the president, the secretary of state and Congress.

That report cited North Korea’s approach toward religion as “among the most hostile and repressive in the world.”

For generations, North Koreans have been taught their leaders are deities, and so “freedom of religion or belief does not exist in North Korea.”