Millions of people cheered when the North and South Korean Olympic teams marched together at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, which Pope Francis said “gives hope for a world in which conflicts can be resolved peacefully through dialogue and mutual respect, as sports also teaches us to do.”
Adding to the hopes that this year’s Olympic Games may create an opportunity to improve ties between North Korea and South Korea, Kim Yo-jong – the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and head of the North’s Olympic delegation – has invited the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, to visit Pyongyang for what would be only the third inter-Korean summit.
In fact, Kim Sung-han, who served as South Korea’s vice foreign minister in 2012-2013, told Reuters, “North Korea clearly appears to be winning the gold” in positive news from the Olympics.
Despite these efforts at peacebuilding, “nothing will come from it” unless more freedom is given to the North’s oppressed Christian community, according to one leading Christian human rights organization.
“We do know the situation of the Christians in North Korea, and it is abysmal. They are given no religious freedom, and no rights,” said a communications officer at Open Doors UK, which helps persecuted Christians around the world.
Open Doors estimates there are over 300,000 Christians in North Korea, which has state-enforced atheism, although in reality worships the ruling Kim family.
The organization says tens of thousands of Christians are incarcerated in forced-labor camps, and thousands more must practice their faith in complete secrecy.
According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, North Korea ranks as “one of the world’s most repressive regimes.”
The commission has listed it as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ for fourteen years.
Read more at Crux.