As Pope Francis delivered an Easter Sunday message of peace, the U.S. sent out fighter jets to the Korean peninsula for military drills amid rising tensions and the danger of war.
"Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow," Pope Francis stated, speaking in Italian. He was speaking in his first Easter Sunday address since being appointed leader of the Roman Catholic Church, greeting over 250,000 people from the central balcony at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has declared invalid the armistice of 1953 with South Korea, ending the truce between the countries, and has cut off the direct phone connecting the two governments.
"The U.S. has reduced the armistice agreement to a dead paper," declared the Supreme Command of North Korea's army, according to CNN. The isolated Pacific nation is blaming the U.S. and the U.N. for imposing tougher sanctions on the Kim Jong Un-led government after it carried out nuclear tests on February 12, defying international regulations.
North Korea has also cut off the direct phone link it had with its southern neighbor at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom, which served as an emergency line of communication between the two sides. more >>
On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to punish North Korea for its February nuclear test, imposing a fourth round of tougher sanctions on the Asian country.
The sanction vote came hours after the country threatened a preemptive nuclear attack against the U.S.
In a statement released by the Korean Central News Agency, considered to be a mouthpiece for the state, the country argued that the United States "is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war," adding that, in response, North Korea "will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country." more >>
Institute on Religion and Democracy Director Faith J.H. McDonnell has criticized former controversial NBA star Dennis Rodman for his recent visit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, highlighting that thousands of Christians are currently suffering horrible abuse in the reclusive country.
"From incarcerating Christians and political prisoners in gulags to executing those caught fleeing over the Chinese border; North Korea's despotic rulers have consistently held the title of worst oppressors in the world," McDonnell said in a statement.
Rodman, who said on ABC's Sunday morning interview that Kim Jong-Un is a "good guy" and a "friend," visited North Korea for a basketball exhibition last week. He has been criticized by the general media for his seemingly friendly relations with a leader whose country has openly declared America to be an enemy and where people are denied their human rights. Rodman even suggested that President Barack Obama needs to call Kim so they can avoid war. more >>
Before leaving North Korea Friday as part of his "basketball diplomacy" visit, ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman praised leader Kim Jong Un for being an "awesome guy," adding he and his father were "great leaders."
Rodman, who is now the most high-profile American to meet Kim Jong Un, told local media outside of the Pyongyang's Sunan airport before departing that it was "amazing how [Kim Jong Un] was so honest."
"Guess what, his grandfather, and his father were great leaders, and he's such a proud man," Rodman, who was visiting the country along with the famed American basketball exhibition team the Harlem Globetrotters, said. "He's proud, his country likes him – not like him, love him, love him," Rodman said. "Guess what, I love him. The guy's really awesome." more >>
As North Korea continues defying the concerns of the world by going ahead with its third nuclear test, refugees from the troubled country have spoken out to reveal the extreme religious persecution believers are suffering in the isolated Pacific nation.
"They ignore all freedoms. The human rights level is zero percent. Religions are not allowed. The leader of North Korea (Kim Jong-Un) has to be worshipped as god and this will not change unless the regime collapses," said a man identified as "Timothy," a 24-year old North Korean refugee.
Timothy has revealed to Open Doors USA, a persecution watchdog group, that he was tortured almost to the point of death for trying to escape to China nine years ago. He added that the government is "preoccupied with nuclear tests." more >>