A non-profit charitable organization called Korea Future Initiative released a nearly 100 page report detailing violations of religious freedom in North Korea. Korea Future Initiative equips governments and international organizations with human rights information to bring positive change in North Korea. The violations of freedom of religion in North Korea included in the report span from 1990 to 2019. Korea Future Initiative says they communicate their work to the target audience of decision-makers who are responsible for creating or applying policies in North Korea.
Report on Religion in North Korea
The report titled Persecuting Faith: Documenting religious freedom violations in North Korea Volume I was written from 117 interviews of survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators conducted over seven months. The report says, “In total, 273 victims of religious freedom violations were identified by investigators. Of the 273 documented victims, 215 had adhered to Christianity and 56 had adhered to shamanism. Their ages ranged from 3-years old to over 80-years old. Women and girls accounted for nearly 60 percent of documented victims.”
Persecuted victims faced criminal charges of religious practice, religious activities in China, possessing religious items, contact with religious persons, attending places of worship, and sharing religious beliefs.
The actions that resulted from those charges included arbitrary arrest, arbitrary detention, arbitrary imprisonment, arbitrary interrogation, refoulement, punishment of family members, torture and sustained physical assault, sexual violence, execution, and public trials and resident exposure meetings.
The report claims it it is just factual findings, not a legal analysis, to inform the international community and to lend support in the hopes it may detour future violations of freedom of religion in North Korea, possibly leading to some accountability.
Some of the key findings as listed within the report are the following:
-The report includes documented information from 117 interviews with exiled North Koreans that were conducted over a period of seven months in 2019-2020.
–The investigation documented 273 victims of religious freedom violations.
–Of the 273 identified victims, 215 had adhered to Christianity and 56 had adhered to shamanism. Two victims had adhered to other religions or beliefs.
–The investigation identified 54 individual perpetrators of religious freedom violations.
–The names of 34 of these perpetrators were retained alongside additional identifying information, such as rank, location, physical description, and associated organization.
–Documented organizations associated with religious freedom violations included Ministry of State Security; Ministry of People’s Security; Ministry of Public Security (China); and Border Security Command.