Open Doors USA: North Korea’s Release of Americans Positive First Step in Country Where Human Rights

David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, reacts to the release of three Americans from North Korean custody:

"Open Doors celebrates the release of American prisoners Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim. This certainly marks a great victory for these families and one critical step toward restoring diplomatic relations with North Korea.

"To keep progressing, this first gesture of goodwill must now be followed by further actions to address the long-running, systematic human rights abuses that still plague the people of North Korea. Building on this positive development, we must continue to advocate for the release of political and ideological prisoners among the estimated 250,000 North Koreans in Kim Jong Un's prison system. 

"We must continue to call attention to the 50,000 Christians who have been detained in these interrogation centers, prison cells and work camps. And we must continue to work toward religious freedoms for the estimated 300,000 North Korean Christians who must practice their faith under threat of harassment, imprisonment and even death.

"The logical next step is for the Trump administration to press Kim Jong Un to open his labor camps to the Red Cross and the United Nations Council of Inquiry within the next 30 days. We must gain transparency into how these people are being treated. And then we must push forward to negotiate with North Korea to release all political dissidents being held across their prison system.

"We must make it clear that Kim Jong Un can only be invited back into the world's good graces, and be lauded for political gestures, if he commits to resolving decades of human rights violations at the hands of his regime. This man maintains fascist control over North Korea, leading his country to be ranked No. 1 on the Open Doors World Watch List for 17 consecutive years. 

"Beyond those whom Kim imprisons, he systematically brainwashes and isolates all of his citizens from outside information, and he demands cultic reverence for himself and his ancestors. 

"While the freedom of three American prisoners is a fantastic start, let's acknowledge that Kim has not yet ushered in freedom for all. Don't let these recent positive developments be perceived as the celebratory end of the freedom work in North Korea, and instead let it mark the beginning."

About Open Doors USA
For more than 60 years, Open Doors USA has worked in the world's most oppressive and restrictive countries for Christians. Open Doors works to equip and encourage Christians living in dangerous circumstances with the threat of persecution and equips the Western church to advocate for the persecuted. Christians are one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. For more information, visit OpenDoorsUSA.org.

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