Home > National > North Korea: Confrontational and brutal, repressive, and cruel; Religious persecution, Aggression, Militancy, Communism, and Nukes.

North Korea: Confrontational and brutal, repressive, and cruel; Religious persecution, Aggression, Militancy, Communism, and Nukes.

December 12, 2010

 Special Report

Religious Persecution in North Korea

Doug Bandow | 12.9.10 @ 6:07AM

The Kim regime is more than confrontational — it remains brutally repressive and cruel.

North Korea again has demonstrated its recklessness to the world. Pyongyang recently unveiled its uranium enrichment program and bombarded a South Korean island. For a time war clouds circled the Korean peninsula.

But the Kim dynasty in the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is more than confrontational. The regime is brutally repressive. The North’s prison camps are full of political dissidents, would-be refugees, and religious believers.

The DPRK routinely rates among the world’s worst religious persecutors. Formally atheistic, the regime has turned politics into a quasi-religion. The communist system is holy like a church, the ruling Kims, both father and son, are secular saints, the self-reliance philosophy of Juche amounts to theology, recorded in books of Kim sayings, and heretics are severely punished.

But North Korean repression is largely invisible to the world. We see through a glass darkly wrote the Apostle Paul, and no where was that more true than in the DPRK. The regime is uniquely opaque, with only a minimal foreign presence in Pyongyang. 

In late 2009, 29-year-old Robert Park illegally crossed from China to the North in order to increase attention to persecution in North Korea. He was held for 43 days and tortured before being released. He recently has been speaking about his experience.

Unfortunately, conditions have not improved. The State Department designates the communist state as a Country of Particular Concern. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also recently cited the North as one of its 13 Countries of Particular Concern. The group Open Doors put the DPRK at the top of its latest World Watch List. International Christian Concern cites North Korea as one of the world’s 10 Worst Persecutors. 

Yet foreign religious delegations sometimes are taken in by the North’s Potemkin Village of faith. Last October, Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy wrote about such a trip organized by the World Council of Churches, which in years past had promoted violent Marxist “liberation” groups. Alas, clerics often are the most credulous of observers, seemingly determined to see the Kim regime as an international victim.

The reality is very different. In the DPRK, explains the State Department, “the government severely restricted religious activity, except that which was supervised tightly by officially recognized groups linked to the government. Genuine religious freedom does not exist.” Those who seek to gather and worship independently face severe repression.

The Commission’s judgment is similar: “Severe religious freedom abuses occur regularly, including: surveillance, discrimination, and harassment of both authorized and unauthorized religious activity; the arrest, torture, and possible execution of those conducting clandestine religious activity; and the mistreatment and imprisonment of asylum-seekers repatriated from China, particularly those suspected of engaging in religious activities or having religious affiliations.” 

In fact, repression has been getting worse, since Pyongyang feels threatened by increased cross-border activity. Reports State: “Recent refugee, defector, missionary, and nongovernment organization (NGO) reports indicated religious persons engaging in proselytizing in the country, and those who have been in contact with foreigners or missionaries have been arrested and subjected to harsh penalties.”

International Christian Concern offers a similar judgment: “In 2009, the North Korean government took new steps to combat religious activity, and halted cross-border support from Chinese Christians. The government set up false prayer meetings and infiltrated underground churches as new tactics to entrap Christian converts.”

Yeo-sang Yoon and Sun-young Han of the North Korean Human Rights Archives and Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, respectively, interviewed North Korean defectors and refugees. They released their latest white paper on religious liberty in the North last year. The report still makes for depressing reading.

Yoon and Han estimate that roughly five percent of human rights violations involve religious persecution. Unfortunately, the authors conclude, “Religious oppression is ongoing with no signs of any improvement.” Nevertheless, there is a small but important bright spot: “The number of unofficial, behind-the-scenes and clandestine religious activities has increased little by little despite the North’s anti-religious policies.”

The Kim dynasty does not recognize individual liberty of any sort. People in the DPRK are expected to be dutiful automatons. They should share the official “religion” of deification of the Kim-led state. Everything people do is expected to glorify the “Great” and “Dear” Leaders. The regime considers real “religion as something to overcome,” write Yoon and Han.

Pyongyang obviously understands the threat posed by belief in God. As Adolf Hitler’s notorious “People’s Court” judge Roland Freisler declared, Nazism (paganism, occultism, rule of individual man) and Christianity had only one thing in common — they claimed the whole person. Similarly, Christianity (and other faiths) and Communism (atheistic rule of individual man) (especially in North Korea) have only one thing in common — they claim the whole person.

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Letter to the Editor

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author and editor of several books, including The Politics of Plunder: Misgovernment in Washington.



Is the US Willing to Stand Up to North Korea and Iran?

Tuesday, 30 Nov 2010 02:48 PM

By Edward Koch

Has our country reached the point when we, like so many great nations before us, are no longer the leading state of our time?

The evidence of our decline is everywhere, but nowhere is it more apparent than in the way we are being treated by other countries. Some of our allies, including Canada, Holland, and Spain, have left or are leaving us in the lurch in Afghanistan, withdrawing their troops.

Many states, including our allies, have sought to embarrass us diplomatically. The trip that President Obama took recently to the Pacific Rim was an example of that. He was rebuffed by countries large and small. Most media observers called his journey a fiasco of sorts.

There was a time when the U.S. military said it was capable of fighting 2 ½ wars at the same time. Today, as a result of being bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, we probably are unable to fight a third war, and our enemies know it.

Last Spring, North Korea sank a South Korean navy ship, killing 46 South Korean sailors. The U.S. is an ally of South Korea with 28,000 U.S. troops in that country. We’ve always been told that those troops are there as a tripwire, so that North Korea would know if it attacked South Korea, it would be attacking the U.S. in the same way that an attack on one NATO country would be seen as an attack upon all NATO members.

In the case of North Korea, it has paid no price for its sinking of the South Korean ship and, just as bad, no price for its recent unprovoked artillery bombardment of a South Korean island which resulted in the deaths of two South Korean soldiers and two civilians, with injuries to 15 others.

Today comes the revelation from the American secret documents disclosed by WikiLeaks that North Korea has been supplying long-range missiles to Iran. According to The New York Times of November 29, the documents “reveal for the first time that the United States believes that Iran has obtained advanced missiles from North Korea that could let it strike at Western European capitals and Moscow and help it develop more formidable long-range ballistic missiles.”

Other than decrying the most recent attack on South Korea and sending the George Washington aircraft carrier to participate in a joint military exercise in South Korean waters, so far as I know, we have done nothing to retaliate.

Undoubtedly, South Korea is reluctant to retaliate or escalate, fearing to expose millions of its citizens to further military action, including a possible nuclear attack by North Korea, which has the fourth largest army in the world. North Korean citizens may be dying of starvation, but their army is well provided for.

Do we have the means or resolve to launch a punishing attack against North Korea, which is perceived as crazy enough to launch a nuclear attack against South Korea or Japan, expecting China to continue to protect it at the U.N. and provide it with military support?

Aside from our not having the resources to take on another war with North Korea, especially if the latter is supported by China — remember General MacArthur’s error in 1951 in approaching the Yalu River and having the Chinese army enter the fray and drive us back to the 38th parallel — most troubling is we don’t have the resolve.

America is simply not prepared or willing to go to war again, after our terrible experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are not willing to accept the hardships a war requires, including the need to pay for that war with additional current taxes. Nor are we willing to reimpose the draft requiring everyone to do their part.

We simply are not prepared to protect our national honor and national security as we once were when we went to war with Nazi Germany. Indeed, the situation today is looking more and more like Munich of 1938 when the world caved to the Nazi threats, as we today cave to the threats of countries like North Korea and Iran.

We have even succumbed to the threats of Somali pirates who, according to The New York Times of November 9, are holding for ransom 25 ships and 500 people.

We should tell North Korea and Iran to turn over by a stated deadline their nuclear weapons to China or Russia, countries where we believe the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) still applies, or suffer military consequences. We should warn them that any act of war they engage in worldwide will result in an immediate military response on our part of a devastating nature.

What our current situation requires is the resolve of President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 when he made clear to the U.S.S.R. that the U.S. would immediately respond to the Soviets’ placing nuclear missiles in Cuba deeming it an act of war. Is President Obama up to it? This is his 3 a.m. telephone call. I pray he is.

UPDATE: Obama’s N Korea 3am phone call = FAIL, Hillary’s N Korea 3am phone call = FAIL.

RELATED: Obama’s WikiLeaks 3am phone call = FAIL, Hillary’s WikiLeaks 3am phone call = FAIL.

November 26, 2010

South Korea has to respond to the North’s aggression

Jerry Philipson

North Korea has committed two major acts of war against South Korea so far this year, last March when it torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel in international waters destroying the ship and killing 46 sailors and last Tuesday November 22 when it launched a missile attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island which killed two soldiers and at least two civilians, and has injured dozens more. Just prior to that the North Koreans unveiled a modern up-to-date nuclear facility they constructed which will enable them to enrich uranium and produce more powerful nuclear weapons than the 10 or so they already have. Governments and pundits around the world have been counselling restraint to this latest atack because it is felt that a military response could lead to all out war between the two countries, a war which could involve nuclear weapons and drag in the United States, China and others.

Restraint is precisely the wrong approach to take, at least if you’re South Korean. North Korea is going to continue to commit acts of war against the South and sow death and destruction until she is stopped and the only thing which is going to do that is a strong, unambiguous, targeted military response. Its either that or suffer the death of a thousand cuts. Since South Korea is not willing to undergo that and North Korea will not stop attacking a targeted military response makes a great deal of sense. It may lead to all out war to be sure but then again it may not…no one except the North Koreans seems to want war and cooler heads may prevail once the firing commences. In any event South Koreans have to protect themselves and prevent further attacks and using their military is the only way to do it, unless of course committing slow national suicide is part of their equation.

All of which begs several questions. How much restraint would the United States show if China purposely sunk an American navy ship and killed 50 odd U.S. sailors? What about vice/versa? What if the United States or China launched non nuclear missiles at the other’s territory and killed soldiers and civilians alike? What good would restraint do then? What would a failure to respond tell either country’s antagonists and how would that prevent further attacks and loss of life? How have President Obama’s policies of conciliation, appeasement and containment towards North Korea contributed to the situation and how do the lessons learned pertain to the Middle East and Iran? Etc. etc. etc.

Yes, South Korea has to respond. The United States and China have to restrain North Korea and perhaps themselves once that occurs, but South Korea has to respond.

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