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Posted by admin on Oct 11, 2018

The TelegraphA human rights activist has criticised North Korea’s invitation for the Pope to visit Pyongyang as an “impure manoeuvre” designed to fool the world into believing that the regime is becoming more open to religious freedoms.  South Korea’s presidential Blue House announced on Tuesday that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, extended the invitation during his summit in September in Pyongyang with Moon Jae-in, his South Korean counterpart. Mr Moon, a practising Catholic, will pass the offer on when he meets the Pope at the Vatican next week, part of his upcoming nine-day visit to Europe.  Activists say Mr Kim’s offer is “propaganda”. “There are no religious freedoms in North Korea and the regime does not permit worship of anything other than the Kim family”, said Song Young-chae, a member of the Seoul-based Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea.  “The intention behind this impure manoeuvre is clearly to try to convince the rest of the world that they are changing, that they are improving their human rights record and that they can be trusted”, he told The Telegraph. “Mr Kim wants a public meeting with the Pope for propaganda reasons”. At a glance | North Korea’s human rights record Two churches were constructed in Pyongyang in the 1980s, along with a Russian Orthodox church that was completed in 2006, but Mr Song said they are merely for show and that “the church is just a puppet to the Kim family”.  After interviewing dozens of defectors, the 2014 United Nations Commission of Inquiry concluded there was “an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” in North Korea, while the US State Department’s 2017 paper on religious freedoms in the North said the government exacts harsh punishments on those who insist on following their religion, including executions, torture, beatings and arrest.  The Catholic church estimated that there were around 55,000 followers of the Catholic religion in North Korea when the Korean War broke out in 1950, but that figure is believed to have dwindled to a maximum of 4,000.  Kim Jong-il, the father of the present North Korean leader, invited Pope John Paul II to North Korea in 2000. The trip never materialised, however, reportedly because the Vatican insisted at the time that the Pope would only visit if Catholic priests were permitted to worship in the North.  “It’s impossible for the Pope to go”, said Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University and an authority on the North Korean leadership.  “To permit religious freedoms would undermine the cult of personality that has been built up around the Kim family, so this offer is solely designed to deflect criticisms over human rights”, he said. 

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https://www.yahoo.com/news/kim-jong-un-apos-invitation-05450...

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