By Open Doors 25 June 2024 4 MIN

North Korea | Human Rights Discussed in Latest UN Meeting

On Wednesday, 12 June, the United Nations (UN) Security Council held another meeting to discuss the human rights situation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), better known as North Korea.

Forced Labour and Mysterious Disappearances

Various spokespersons highlighted the plight of the people who suffer from severe repression. Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, discussed how three laws have made life more difficult for North Korean citizens. One law deals with the consumption of foreign media, another criminalises the use of language not in line with the Pyongyang dialect, and a third forces youth to conform to a socialist lifestyle. “Put simply, people in the DPRK are at risk of death for merely watching or sharing a foreign television series,” he said.

Türk also spoke about the forced labour of prisoners and the estimated 100,000 people who have disappeared inside and even outside the country (especially in Japan and South Korea, where citizens have been abducted by North Korean secret agents in the past). He pled to the North Korean government to allow people to reconnect with their loved ones.

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While all citizens are severely oppressed, we should not forget the special position of the Christians, says Simon Lee*, Open Doors’ coordinator for North Korean ministry. “People on the international stage often tend to forget that Christians are considered to be enemies of the state,” says Lee. “One of the laws that was mentioned at the UN Council meeting, has a specific category for people who distribute or read biblical materials. Only, in the official text of the law, Christianity is called ‘superstition’.”

While it’s fantastic that the general human rights situation is discussed at such a high political level, it’s important that our politicians don’t forget about North Korea. When asked what we should all remember, Simon shares:

“Firstly, recognise that freedom of religion is a good barometer for the state of human rights in general. Second, the punishment for distributing religious materials is extremely high. Many Christians who are arrested receive sentences above ten years’ hard labour in a penal colony. Thirdly, remember that Christians have no freedom to meet each other. Officially there are only four churches in North Korea. In reality, all the visitors are members of North Korea’s ruling Worker’s Party. Christianity is completely forbidden, and the Bible is a book that’s almost always hidden in case there are random house searches. Parents are afraid to tell their children about God. Instead, they are forced to teach them about the deeds of the leaders.”

Pray for North Korea

  • Thank the Lord for politicians who try to help the North Korean people.
  • Pray for strength for those who suffer from the lack of human rights.
  • Pray for the Christians, that the world will not forget them. Pray for perseverance and strength.

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