June 07, 2018
If President Trump manages to meet with Kim Jong Un next week, the two men will have plenty to talk about. And while denuclearization will probably top the list, there's also the matter of the regime's other weapons -- against faith.
Kim Hak Song, one of the Americans released by North Korea last month knows exactly how oppressive the government there can be. Thrown into prison for the "crime" of praying, Kim says he was spared some of the horrors the others experienced. At one point during his captivity, he took the risk of sharing the gospel with a regime official -- a decision that could have cost him his life. "I was grateful and thankful that at this time I was able to share God's message to this person."
But it is a message the country does not tolerate. For that reason, a coalition of religious liberty advocates -- including FRC -- sent a letter to President Trump, urging him to bring up the dictator's hostility toward faith in the list of topics the two discuss.
"We applaud and support your efforts to secure the release of American citizens," they write. "We also implore you to recognize that there are tens of thousands of other men, women, and even children -- most of them North Korean citizens and many of them Christians -- being brutalized by Kim and his regime. For decades, North Korea has been in effect a national torture chamber. There is nowhere on earth more dangerous for dissenters of conscience, especially those who believe in God."
In particular, they ask the following list to be included in any sort of agreement the two countries reach:
- As a good-will gesture, the immediate release of substantial numbers of prisoners of conscience."
- "Within one month of any agreement, access to all prisons by the International Red Cross and the members of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry."
- "The setting of quotas for voluntary emigration of released prisoners and their families, and for other applicants, to be administered and overseen by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees."
- "Agreement that the U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in North Korea may visit North Korea within three months of the agreement and have free access to any part of the country."
At this point, even having the meeting would be considered a success. But Americans should all be in prayer for an even greater victory for the persecuted in North Korea -- and beyond.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.