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North Korea religious persecution among world's worst, report says

Those who oppose North Korea’s ideology of Juche and its cult of the dynastic Kim regime have been the targets of a violent crackdown, according to a foundation of the Roman Catholic Church.

By
Elizabeth Shim
This photo, released by Korean Central News Agency, shows statues of North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung, and his son and successor, Kim Jong Il. North Korea’s Constitution guarantees religious freedom, but in practice the state does not tolerate religious or political differences. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun/Yonhap
This photo, released by Korean Central News Agency, shows statues of North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung, and his son and successor, Kim Jong Il. North Korea’s Constitution guarantees religious freedom, but in practice the state does not tolerate religious or political differences. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun/Yonhap

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Religious persecution in North Korea is among the world's worst, and summary executions of North Koreans who come into contact with South Korean Christians has increased under Kim Jong Un, according to a recent report.

Aid to the Church in Need International, a pontifical foundation of the Roman Catholic Church, said severe religious persecution is oppressing Christians around the world, Voice of America reported on Friday.

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Countries where injustices are recurring include North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the Sudan, according to the organization's report, "Persecuted and Forgotten?"

The survey collected data and evidence between 2013 and 2015 and noted North Korea's persecution of Christians has intensified since Kim fully assumed power.

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The report stated those who were opposed to North Korea's ideology of Juche and its cult of the dynastic Kim regime have been the targets of a violent crackdown. In one particular case, 33 North Korean Christians who came into contact with South Korean Christian groups, most likely in China, were summarily executed, according to the report.

In North Korea, only conversion to a state-sanctioned Christian church is allowed, and becoming Christian without the government's approval could lead to arrest, torture or a death sentence, the report stated.

North Korea's Constitution guarantees religious freedom, but in practice the state does not tolerate religious or political differences.

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In March, a North Korean defector who said she was forced to beg for food before fleeing to the South told South Korea press her mother was taken away by the authorities for making contact with Christian missionaries in China. She was arrested for praying, the defector said.

South Korean news network YTN reported between 40,000-50,000 North Koreans are serving sentences in North Korea's re-education camps for practicing Christianity, and that about 10 percent of that population are being forced to work in corrective labor colonies.

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