[Writer's Choice] North Korea Top Christian Persecutor; US to Push Religious Freedom
Jay Yim, July 19, 2019, 2:25 p.m.
On Thursday July 18, Vice President Mike Pence made a vow to push religious freedom in North Korea, despite the United States' narrow focus on denuclearisation in high-profile summits.
Pence made the pledge during a high-level State Department conference on religious freedom. This came just weeks after President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a third time and agreed to restart working-level negotiations.
"You can be confident, as President Trump continues to pursue the denuclearisation of North Korea and a lasting peace, the United States will continue to stand for the freedom of religion of all people of all faiths on the Korean peninsula," said Pence, who happens to be a conservative Catholic who is popular with Trump's evangelic base.
Pence referred to advocacy group for persecuted Christians, Open Doors, saying that North Korea has been ranked as its worst violator for 18 consecutive years.
North Korean officials vow to "'wipe out the seed of Christian reactionaries' and possession of a Bible is a capital offence," Pence said.
Trump has on numerous ocassions voiced his fondness for Kim, even going as far as saying the two are "in love," as he seeks a potentially historic accord.
North Korea often scoffs at the foregin criticism and accuses the ill-wishers of trying to delibaretly cause diplomatic failure.
North Korea, earlier this week, issued a warning that military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea could negatively affect the restarting of talks.