N Korea executes woman for distributing Bibles

Will the world ever be able to solve the problem of North Korea?  It’s run by an insane thug; it’s economy is in shambles; and its human rights record is one of the worst on the planet.  Oh, and they’re developing nuclear weapons.  (I’m not one of those who thinks the minute NK builds a fully functional nuclear missile the first thing they’ll do is take out Seattle; no, crazy as he is Kim Jong Il wants nukes to guarantee his sovereignty.  He knows and we know that the moment he has proper nukes any chance of his forcible overthrow by outside powers has gone out the window.)

But I digress.  If I have any values which could be called sacred, freedom of expression is assuredly on that list.  I would no more squelch the freedom of Christian speech than cut off my own arm.  Even if I were dictator for a day, I would not bulldoze churches, muzzle street preachers, or close down religious charities.  And I know it’s cliche to say so, but  I do think the freedoms of thought and speech are worth fighting for and dying for.

Now there’s this report that NK has executed one of their own citizens for distributing the Bible. (This report is somewhat unsubstantiated, so there’s a possibility that, after I’ve gotten both myself and you all worked up, I might come back tomorrow with a meek “Nevermind…”)  The report also claims she was accused of spying and organizing dissidents (which is kind of the all-purpose accusation in places like NK).

Here’s the AP story:

Report: North Korea Publicly Executes Christian Woman for Distributing Bible

Friday , July 24, 2009

AP

SEOUL, South Korea –
North Korea publicly executed a Christian woman last month for distributing the Bible, which is banned in the communist nation, South Korean activists said Friday.

Ri Hyon Ok, 33, was also accused of spying for South Korea and the United States and organizing dissidents. She was executed in the northwestern city of Ryongchon near the border with China on June 16, according to a report from an alliance of several dozen anti-North Korea groups.

Ri’s parents, husband and three children were sent to a political prison camp in the northeastern city of Hoeryong the following day, the report said, citing unidentified documents it says were obtained from North Korea. It showed a copy of Ri’s North Korean government-issued photo ID. It is virtually impossible to verify such reports about secretive North Korea, where the government tightly controls the lives of its citizens and does not allow dissent.

On Thursday, an annual report from a state-run South Korean think tank on human rights in the North said that public executions, though dropping in number in recent years, were still carried out for crimes ranging from murder to circulating foreign movies.

North Korea claims to guarantee freedom of religion for its 24 million people but in reality severely restricts religious observances. The cult of personality surrounding national founder Kim Il Sung and his son, current leader Kim Jong Il, is a virtual state religion.

The government has authorized four state churches, one Catholic, two Protestant and one Russian Orthodox, but they cater to foreigners and ordinary North Koreans cannot attend. However, defectors and activists say more than 30,000 North Koreans are believed to practice Christianity secretly.

The U.S. State Department reported last year that “genuine religious freedom does not exist” in North Korea.

“North Korea appears to have judged that Christian forces could pose a threat to its regime,” Do Hee-youn, a leading activist, told reporters, claiming public executions, arrest and detention of North Koreans are prevalent.

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