From Townhall Magazine's April feature, "A Ruined Nation," by Daniel Doherty:
In the United States, one of the greatest freedoms Americans cherish is the right to worship freely. The First Amendment preserves the right of citizens to practice a plurality of faiths without fear of repression or persecution. Quite rightly, the Founding Fathers recognized—through their readings of history and political philosophy—that free societies could not long survive without the ineffaceable right of religious freedom.
According to The Huffington Post, Pyongyang was once known as the “Jerusalem of the East,” a city where Christianity and religious freedom flourished before World War II. Today, however, the website Open Doors USA— belonging to the organization Open Doors, which specializes in serving persecuted Christians worldwide—ranks the DPRK as the most anti-Christian nation on earth. In 2008, the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, as reported in Christianity Today, estimated that there are 10,592 Christian martyrs in North Korea every year.
The lack of religious tolerance and the persecution of Christians is a direct consequence of the apotheosis of Kim Il Sung. The deceased founder of the DPRK is not only forever immortalized as the de facto head of state but is also worshipped as a god. From cradle to grave, children are inculcated with antireligious propaganda extolling Kim Il Sung as the nation’s benevolent and paternalistic savior. Although Article 68 of the Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea guarantees freedom of religion, the document is ignored in practice and does little to prevent Christians from being tortured, starved and even publicly executed for expressing their faith. The reason, of course, is that alternative theologies pose a direct challenge to the authoritarian and brainwashing capabilities of the regime.
One of the most disturbing cases of anti- Christian persecution on record involved a 33-year-old mother of three. According to The Associated Press, Ri Hyon Ok was publicly executed for allegedly organizing dissidents and distributing Bibles—a banned book—in the summer of 2009. And sadly, it was reported by the Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity that her husband, children and parents were subsequently committed to a political prison the day after she was executed. This zero-tolerance policy underscores not only the severity of breaking the law but the constant threat that individual citizens will be held accountable for the actions of others. This creates a climate of terror where abject submission is perhaps the only way North Koreans can cope with their impoverished and miserable lives. And these are not isolated incidents. ...
The Failure of the U.N. Charter
The Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations, which is excerpted below, is believed by some to be the greatest written achievement of the 20th century.
“We the people of the United Nations determined: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained.”
After the devastation and atrocities of World War II, an eclectic group of scholars, diplomats and activists assembled in San Francisco, Calif., to draft a document dedicated to the principles of human freedom and dignity. The Charter, which officially established the United Nations on October 24, 1945, is a testament to the men and women who envisioned a world free from want, war, famine and oppression.
Almost 50 years later, on September 17, 1991, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was officially accepted as a member state to the U.N. On the surface, the occasion was a defining moment in the DPRK’s young history. By signing the Charter of the United Nations, North Korea was joining the international community, openly promising to enforce basic human rights laws, as stipulated in the treaty. Moreover, as a signatory, it was expected that the DPRK would preserve the sanctity and dignity of every human life and work in conjunction with other nations to build a better and more egalitarian world.
Unfortunately, the U.N.’s expectation of a free and prosperous North Korea has never come close to fruition. Under the tyrannical leadership of the Dear Leader, who inherited absolute power in 1994 following the death of his father, Kim Sung Il, the DPRK became increasingly repressive and reclusive. And yet, to this day, the U.N. repeatedly fails to hold North Korea’s government accountable for its actions by still allowing it to be a member of the organization. ...
Read more of Daniel Doherty's piece in the April isssue of Townhall Magazine.
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