On the state of religious persecution in North Korea
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Co-Chair of Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, today issued the following statement on the recent report released by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on the state of religious persecution in North Korea:
“North Korea's human rights abuses are almost without parallel—with horrific reports of up to 70,000 North Koreans currently in prison for their religious beliefs.
“The new USCIRF report—based on painstaking interviews with survivors, witnesses and even perpetrators of religious freedom in North Korea—makes it absolutely clear that the situation has not improved since 2014, when a United Nations commission of inquiry found an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
“Additionally, the report—entitled ‘Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism and the Right to Freedom of Religion, Thought, and Conscience in North Korea’—emphasizes the highly organized efforts by the Workers’ Party of Korea to enforce an ideology known as Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism with an almost messianic fervor as a driving force of religious persecution.
“The Government of North Korea is a totalitarian, Stalinist regime whose dictator Kim Jong-Eun demands idolatrous reverence and brainwashes citizens into following a cult of personality. In stark opposition to this evil regime, it is encouraging to see neighboring South Korea’s recent appointment of an ambassador-at-large on North Korean human rights issues.
“With citizens of North Korea living in some of the most brutal and oppressive conditions in the world, the Biden Administration must take immediate action and appoint a Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights—a position mandated by the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 (PL 108-333).”