According to a new report from the U.S. State Department, North Korea is holding an estimated 120,000 political prisoners hostage at camps with “horrific conditions.”
Besides Christians, “relatives of Christians were also detained regardless of their beliefs.”
“Religious and human rights groups outside the country continued to provide numerous reports that members of underground churches were arrested, beaten, tortured, and killed because of their religious beliefs,” writes the report. “International NGOs and North Korean defectors reported any religious activities conducted outside of those that were state-sanctioned, including praying, singing hymns, and reading the Bible, could lead to severe punishment, including imprisonment in political prison camps.”
“What we know is that you’ve got a gulag system operating in North Korea, and it’s been a terrible situation for many – for many years. You can go on satellite, open-source satellite, and see some of these camps and the situation” said Sam Brownback, the US ambassador-at-large for the international religious freedom to The Guardian.
This proves that North Korea is still very much a dictatorship and does not share the U.S. belief in religious freedom.
“Religious freedom is in the American bloodstream,” said Pompeo on Tuesday. “The release of the report is critical to our mission to defend religious liberty, and brings to light the state of religious freedom all over the world.”
Tomorrow, Kim Yong-chol, a senior North Korean official is visiting New York to discuss a future summit.
“We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!” tweeted Trump.
The White House is still prepping for the meeting between the two leaders.
“Since the President’s 24 May letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the North Koreans have been engaging. The United States continues to actively prepare for President Trump’s expected summit with leader Kim in Singapore,” said Sarah Sanders, the White House Spokeswoman in a statement.
Brownback believes Trump will also address the political prisoners being held by North Korea due to their religious affiliation in a future meeting with Kim.
“The president is right on point on North Korea. He’s very engaged on this, as you know. The secretary [Pompeo] is very engaged on this. And I think they’re raising all of these issues,” said Brownback.
Author’s note: This is just another reason why the negotiations with North Korea need to continue. Eventually North Korea will have to open up.