Religious freedom has been seriously infringed in both North and South Koreas, said a senior media executive.
Lee Sang-myun, president of Cheonji-ilbo, an online religious daily, said the North has been classified as a country to repress religious activities and in the South, the minority Protestant denominations have been repressed by the bigger denominations.
This claim was made during a forum on “Religious Freedom and Human Rights Abuse” held yesterday in the Press Center in Seoul by the publication .
Noting that infringement of religious freedom in the south is also serious, Park Gwang-seo, co-representative of the Korea Institute for Religious Freedom, cited Protestant students who prayed for the destruction of a Buddhist temple, Protestants’ aggressive or threatening mission activities, and door-to-door visits to spread the word.
He suggested the first step toward religious harmony be to acknowledge difference.
Speaking on the North’s religious situation, Stephen Do Hee-youn, president of the Happy Unification, said curtailment of religious freedom in the North has been well acknowledged by the international community.
He said that in November 2010 the US State Department designated North Korea as a country of particular concern which continues to repress religious activities.
For promoting religious freedom in the North, Do suggested international and South Korean religious groups should expand humanitarian aid to the North to give North Koreans more opportunities to have contact with (outside) religions.