North Korea (MNN) – It took some smoothing of ruffled feathers over the last couple of weeks, but the United States and North Korea have agreed to go on with tomorrow’s summit.
There are a few lingering questions about this summit. Other than the talks about denuclearization, what else will be covered? And is North Korea’s commitment to peace sincere? What about the violence going on within their country?
David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, says, “We’ve been advocating and trying to support Christians in North Korea for decades now. And what we have done is put forward in the State Department some negotiating principles that we think would help, really, not just with religious liberty but with the nuclear negotiations.”
He explains that issues like denuclearization shed little light on whether a nation is ready to comply with international agreements and requests. That’s because the process can take over a decade to complete, and it’s hard to know if people are truly working on denuclearizing their nation until a few years have passed.
However, Curry says there are at least a couple of ways North Korea could indicate in the short term that it’s ready to address some of the more serious issues taking place within its borders, namely its treatment of its own people.
“If we go into the negotiations and we say that we would like to, within 60 days, have the UN and the committee of inquiry, be able to examine the labor camps, to see the conditions of the 60,000 some Christians and others who are in forced labor camps. I think that would be a sign, that we could get within the first month or two, that the government really does want to open up and be part of, in small steps, the international community.”
Curry says they would also like to see North Korea agree to a meeting with the United States’ Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, within the next 90 days.
If North Korea complies, Curry says it will be a clue that North Korea might actually be willing to change.
“Otherwise, we will be years down the road, as we’ve seen in other nuclear negotiations, and not know if we’re succeeding or if we’re teetering towards a dangerous situation.”
North Korea has topped the Open Doors World Watch List for the last 17 years because life there is so difficult for Christians.
While Open Doors does deal in very practical measures like the ones mentioned above, they recognize that the spiritual side of the issue is the most important. That’s why, this evening, they are conducting a prayer vigil for the summit. The virtual meeting will begin at 9pm ET. Because of the time difference, this will begin around the same time of the summit taking place in Singapore.
You are invited to join believers around the world as they pray.
Curry says, “I’m going to be in Singapore, leading people through the internet. We’re virtually going to gather together and we’re going to pray through these summit negotiations and pray for the Christians in North Korea. And so on our website, people can go to OpenDoorsUSA.org/pray4nk.”
(Header photo courtesy of John Pavelka via Flickr under Creative Commons License)