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Christians arrested, 1 executed in N. Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (BP)–North Korean authorities arrested two Christian women earlier this year and publicly executed one of them, human rights activists in South Korea have claimed.

Ri Hyon Ok, 33, was accused of distributing the Bible, organizing dissidents and spying for South Korea and the United States, according to The Investigative Commission On Crime Against Humanity, an alliance of anti-North Korea activists. She was executed June 16 in Ryongchon, a city near North Korea’s border with China. The following day, her parents, husband and three children were sent to a political prison camp in Hoeryong, the activists said.

The group claimed it has papers obtained from North Korea documenting the arrests and execution, the Associated Press reported. Their claims could not be independently verified because North Korea’s government tightly controls the flow of information in and out of the country.

The group also claimed that in March, another Christian, Seo Kum Ok, 30, was arrested and tortured by North Korean security agents in a city near Ryongchon on allegations she was attempting to spy on a nuclear site for South Korea and the United States. Her husband also was arrested and their two children disappeared. It is not known whether this woman survived.

Although North Korea claims its citizens have freedom of religion, the government allows only four Christian churches to operate publicly and ordinary North Koreans are not allowed to attend services, the Associated Press reported. Some observers estimate 30,000 Christians worship secretly in the country, where the government promotes a cult of personality focused on its late president, Kim Il Sung, and his son, the current ruler, Kim Jong Il.
North Korea does not maintain an embassy in the United States, but the country does have a representative to the United Nations. The U.N. website lists that contact information as 820 Second Avenue, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10017; telephone (212) 972-3105. Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.

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