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International Initiative for Religious Freedom in North Korea Launches in Seoul

By Naomi Yakawich

SEOUL, June 14— An association to advocate for the religious freedom of the North Korean people was launched by some 200 activists and Christian leaders in South Korea, including Thae Yong-ho, once a high-ranking North Korean diplomat who defected to South Korea in 2016, and Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary who was detained in North Korea from 2012-2014.

Yonhap News Agency covered the inaugural meeting of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom in North Korea, which was held in Seoul. The article states that the coalition plans to garner national and international support to take up the “task of introducing and fostering religious freedom.”

Advocates of a Unified Korea, activists for religious freedom throughout Korea propose that cooperation between various faith leaders will be essential in spreading the message of the equal value of all human life, as we all originate from the same source no matter our national, political, or religious affiliations.

The groundwork for the coalition was laid through convenings like the one held in Seoul in March of 2019 where leaders discussed religious freedom as a fundamental human right for a free and just society at the Global Peace Convention.

"The first step toward inter-Korean reunification should be giving religious freedom to North Korea," said Thae Yong-ho.

Kenneth Bae urged the leaders of South Korea and the United States to place religious freedom on the agenda of future summits, even stating that “religious diffusion” is a greater threat to the North than any nuclear weapon.

Several Korean news outlets also covered the event. Articles in Korean can be found below: