Washington has once again expressed concerns over how North Korea continues to seriously restrict religious freedom.
In its 2021 country report on international religious freedom, the U.S. State Department said Thursday that nearly 70-thousand North Koreans may be in prison for their religious beliefs.
The report also explained that the North has been designated as a (quote) "Country of Particular Concern" since 2001, under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
It added that the regime has been engaged in, or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.
This marks the 20th consecutive year that the State Department has designated the North as violators of religious freedom.
It was one of only ten nations to be designated as a country of particular concern in 2020.
Citing an earlier report published by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the department noted that the regime has been systematically attacking persons it considers a threat, including those who practice religion.
It continues that such individuals were imprisoned without due process and subjected to physical and mental suffering amounting to torture.
The State Department elaborated that its report is based on information provided by NGOs that may not be identified.
It added that access to the regime has further narrowed since Pyeongyang began implementing border closures in 2020 as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.
The report also slammed China for committing (quote) "genocide and crimes against humanity" against the predominantly Muslim Uighur community, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.
It also accused Russian authorities for allegedly engaging in improper acts against religious minorities within the country.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.