Religious freedom remains non-existent in the oppressive regime of North Korea's Kim Jong Un, with evidence showing that over 100,000 people, some spanning three generations back, are forced to work in back-breaking camps, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee reports.
"We know that for ordinary North Koreans there is no right to freedom of religion, [to] assemble, to petition their government. But what is so horrendous, is what happens to the 120,000 who have been arrested and put in these work camps, sometimes for three generations. The back-breaking work, the way they are beaten if they so much as smile," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., illustrated in his remarks at the annual rally with the Korean Church Coalition for North Korean freedom.
Royce suggested that heavy sanctions against Kim have had some effect, as now there are successful broadcasting efforts into North Korea aimed at giving citizens the truth about what is happening in their own country.
"As we continue our efforts, I would just close by saying all of you have done the most responsible of things by having your voice speak out on behalf of the voiceless. Thank you for what you do to protect religious freedom," he added.
North Korea remains the world's most oppressive nation for Christians, persecution watchdog group Open Doors has said, with any form of religious expression strictly prohibited. The isolated Pacific nation has topped the group's World Watch List of greatest oppressors of Christians worldwide for 14 consecutive years, and holds on to its main spot despite the rise of the Islamic State terror group in the past couple of years.
"Getting information out of North Korea is notoriously difficult. That is what makes the fact that it remains number one on the World Watch List even more amazing. We don't even know how many Christians have been martyred in North Korea. Yet, it remains at the top. That's because it uses all of the powers of its government to suppress Christian faith, to punish even the most basic of things such as owning a Bible," Open Doors CEO David Curry told The Christian Post in an interview back in January.
"There were over 70,000 Christians that were imprisoned for their faith this year. You have executions — we don't know how many, but we know of enough. There has been no let up in persecution in North Korea," Curry added.
The Korean Church Coalition explains on its website that one of the main issues it seeks to raise awareness for is North Korean refugees who manage to flee to China, but are treated as criminals and sent back home if they are captured — where they face increased torture, starvation, and sometimes death.