Mission life: THE KUKMIN DAILY

Human Rights Threatened for Christians in North Korea

2013-11-20 11:42

The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights and the Hanns Seidel Foundation co-hosted a seminar titled ‘Record of North Korean Human Rights Incidents and Advocacy’ on November 19 in the New Millennium Hall at Yonsei University, to publicize cases of abuse against North Koreans, who are oppressed for their activities as Christians.

The case of Lee Wang-kook is a prime example. He was born in 1940 and grew up in a devoted Christian family. He was a boilermaker. In 1997, he was arrested for supporting members of underground churches, which were spreading throughout the country. During investigation, when he responded under questioning that he would continue to believe in Christianity, the angry Department of State Security investigator bashed his head in with a hammer, and Lee died immediately. It was only the third day of the investigation. His wife, Jang Young-Ae, and their children died in Yodeok internment camp.

Park Myeong-il of Hwoeryeong, North Hamkyeong Province, was held in prison for possessing a Bible. He had received the Bible from a missionary he met in China when he was visiting there in the winter of 2000. When this was revealed, he was arrested and sent to an internment camp. Currently, it is impossible to confirm at which camp he is being held.

Cha Young-hee, born in 1951, was arrested in 1998 for her church-related activities every time she visited her parents’ home in China, and for distributing the Bible in North Korea. She was moved to internment camp and died two years and 9 months later. The cause of her death is presumed to be torture.

Hwang Kyeong-ryul, born in 1962, was arrested in November 2011 for going to church in China during his travel back and forth for business. The Department of State Security released him temporarily for just three days, to find out whom he contacted. It became known later that he had been shot to death inside the Department.

First Human Rights Ambassador Park Kyeong-seo said, “For the last 10 years, the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights has been interpreting and analyzing human rights violations in North Korea according to the International Bill of Human Rights and the constitution and criminal law of North Korea. They have been playing an important role in publicizing the reality of human rights in North Korea.” He added, “To improve circumstances in the North, we should not approach their human rights issues politically, nor corner North Korea. We should be constructive and peaceful in our proceedings on this matter.”

Reporter Yeong Dae Yoo (ydyoo@kmib.co.kr), with Yeara Ahn-Park (yap@kmib.co.kr)

Click here for the original article in Korean

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