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Violations of Religious Freedom in North Korea in 2020

Violations of Religious Freedom in North Korea in 2020

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North Korea, also known as Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is still one of the most repressive countries in the world nowadays. The current head of government in this country is Kim Jong Un, the third leader of the Kim Dynasty in North Korea. Up till now, travel to and from North Korea is still strictly prohibited by Kim Jong Un and a lot of human rights violations. One of the violations here is that they don’t let their people have freedom about their religions and beliefs.

The country of North Korea follows a state generated ideology called Juche. It is what they consider as their official ideology. This ideology was developed by Kim Il- Sung, the founder and first president of North Korea. He ruled the country right from the start of its establishment in 1948 up to his death in 1994. The ideology of Juche was first recognized in 1955, when Kim Il- Sung mentioned it during a speech that he delivered to the nation. It was originally known as a variation of Marxism- Leninism, the official state ideology of the Soviet Union, before it was recognized to be a unique North Korean characterization. 

Juche stands for the meaning that “man is the master of his destiny.” The North Korean government adopted this ideology to their governing system and created a set of principles in which they use to justify all of their political decisions. To a lot of people outside of North Korea, they view this ideology as self serving and that it only empowers the North Korean government. The Juche treats any expression of independent assembly or thoughts as a threat to the government. Sadly, this also includes any declaration or recognition of their religion and beliefs. 

Because of this ideology, North Koreans are not allowed to have the freedom of having their own religion and beliefs. The country is considered generally to be atheists, but there are a few places for worship which are approved by the government. Some believe that these houses of worship are only for show and to tell everyone that North Korea allows their people to have a freedom of religion and beliefs. However, a lot of North Korean defectors that were able to leave North Korea have not yet spoken about this issue.

Practicing religion or harboring religious practices is considered as a very big crime in North Korea. If a person is suspected to do any of these in private or in public, they are automatically subjected to receive severe punishments. The North Korean government arrests, torture, imprison, and execute all suspected religious believers and their family members, even if their relatives are not as religious as they are. The country has a lot of human rights violations throughout the years which are all being noted by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, UN Security Council, and International Criminal Court. In 2019, North Korea underwent a Universal Periodic Review and was given 267 recommendations by 87 states. Out of all the recommendations, North Korea accepted 132 of them.

References:

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/1158931/download

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juche#:~:text=Juche%20(Korean%3A%20%EC%A3%BC%EC%B2%B4%2F%E4%B8%BB%E9%AB%94,to%20national%20and%20international%20thought%22.

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/north-korea

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