Christian Missionary Kenneth Bae, who is being held captive in North Korea, "confessed" in a new video that he is guilty of a "serious crime" and said Kim Jong-Un's government does not abuse human rights, a statement that experts are saying was clearly given under duress.
"I would like to plead with the U.S. government, press and my family to stop worsening my situation by making vile rumors against North Korea and releasing materials related to me, which are not based on the facts," Bae said on Monday in Pyongyang in a video, according to China's state-run news agency Xinhua.
"I believe that my problem can be solved by close cooperation and agreement between the American government and the government of this country." more >>
Ranked No. 1 on watchdog Open Doors' World Watch List for 12 consecutive years as the worst persecutor of Christians on the globe, North Korea is estimated to have imprisoned between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians for failing to revere their "Dear Leader," the title initiated by previous dictator Kim Jong-il and adopted by his successor and son Kim Jong-un, as a god.
"It is safe to say that nothing has improved for Christians since Kim Jong-un took over power," Open Doors states in its 2014 World Watch List featuring 50 countries where persecution of Christians for religious reasons is most severe. There are an estimated 300,000 Christians in North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Open Doors adds, "The God-like worship of the rulers leaves no room for any other religion. Any reverence not concentrated on the Kim dynasty will be seen as dangerous and state-threatening. Not only will the believers themselves be punished if they are discovered, but likely also their families. Immediate family members, even if they aren't Christians themselves, will serve a sentence in a re-education camp. Christians are sent to political labor camps, from which there is no release possible." more >>
A Chinese doctor has been sentenced to a suspended death penalty after a court found her guilty of abducting and selling seven newborn babies over a two-year period. The doctor's case has shed negative light on China's child trafficking problem.
Zhang Shuxia, an obstetrician at a hospital in the Shaanxi province, was found guilty of selling seven babies to a human trafficking ring from November 2011 to July 2013. Zhang reportedly convinced parents of the newborn babies that their child was infected with a disease or disabled. Once she persuaded the parents to give up their children, the infants were sold to a trafficking ring, which in turn sold the babies to other families.
Zhang received on average 20,000 yuan each for a female baby, while one male baby she sold in 2011 sold for 47,000 yuan. more >>
Evangelist Benny Hinn has cancelled his trip to Bangalore, India where he was to participate in a prayer conference this week. The cancellation, reportedly due to a "visa problem," comes amid protests among Hindu groups who were concerned about Hinn converting their countrymen to Christianity.
Kamal Panth, the Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), revealed to the press on Tuesday that organizers of the Christian Prayer Conference had informed the authorities that Hinn's visit had been cancelled.
"Earlier organizers had said he will be coming; recently they have sent us a letter with names of pastors attending, which does not mention his name — so they have said he is not coming," Panth was quoted as saying. more >>
Former NBA player Dennis Rodman apologized Monday for "the certain situations" currently going on in North Korea, saying he can't control what goes on in the country and that he's "not God." Rodman recently received criticism for comments he made regarding detained American missionary Kenneth Bae, who has been imprisoned in the Asian country for over a year.
After spending a week in the communist country to celebrate leader Kim Jong Un's birthday by hosting a basketball game, Rodman told media at Beijing's International Airport on Monday that he is "sorry for what's going on in North Korea, the certain situations."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry I couldn't do anything," Rodman said. "It's not my fault. I'm sorry. I just want to do some good stuff, that's all I want to do." Rodman has defended his recent trips to North Korea as being a method of "basketball diplomacy," where former NBA players accompany Rodman to the Asian country to play basketball with the hopes of bridging differences between North Korean and western culture. more >>
An Indian court has said that controversial evangelist Benny Hinn will be allowed to visit the state of Karnataka despite protests and petitions from fundamentalist Hindi groups against him.
"India is a secular country. It has so many sects, languages, beliefs and religions as well as social and cultural groups. Tolerance is the need of the hour. We are shocked that the courts are used for these kinds of issues," said Karnataka's High Court, according to Asia News.
Hinn, who is scheduled to speak at a Christian Prayer Conference in Bangalore later this month, attracted protests from close to 2,000 Hindus who on Jan. 3 gathered in the city and called for officials to ban him from visiting. more >>