Social Leaders from 34 Countries Demand Solution to Human Rights Issues in South Korea


UN Civic Groups
UN Civic Groups

Human rights violations against the religious minority by a major Christian group in Korea cause global criticism

"I shouted out the church window, ‘Help me!’. My family said to me that nobody would listen to me. The police came in when I shouted myself hoarse. I grabbed the police and asked them to get me out of here." One day, a Korean woman was abducted and brought into a church, where she was held against her will for 44 days. With the help of the police, she was eventually able to escape.

The reason why this young woman, along with more than 1,000 other people in Korea, was taken is due to the “coercive conversion program” that has been happening in recent years. The coercive conversion program is a process in which a Christian pastor encourages the parents to convert their children from other denominational minorities by using violence and persecution in the situation of confinement and kidnapping. This leads to social divisions ranging from intimidation, verbal abuse, and physical assault, forced leave in the job, divorce, and murder.

Coercive conversion programs violate religious freedom and human rights on multiple levels and contribute to the destruction of families all across Korea, causing deep concern in the international community. More than 100 leaders from 34 countries have sent letters denouncing the organizations and people that take part in coercive conversion.

“The Christian Council of Korea (CCK), under the guise of religious education, operates the forced conversion program which violates human rights and even cause the loss of life. I strongly denounce such a wrongdoing and I request to kindly stop this murderous forced conversion program.” - Vilwanathan Krishnamurthy, Representative of Berlin Hindu, Germany.

“The CCK is causing only divisions among people through disruption and persecution...If the main problem is not having the same beliefs as the CCK, it is good to sit at a round table for a deeper discussion and I am sure and certain that the better solution could be attained.” - Mr. Nshimiyimana Jean Baptiste, The VOICE TV Kigali Co-owner, Rwanda.

On May 31, at an event titled “Intercultural Dialogue for Peace and Development” in the United Nations headquarters in New York, civic groups from around the world convened and advocated the international community to actively respond to the coercive conversion program that occurred in South Korea.

On August 9, 2018, the Christian Harmony and Peace Seminar was held in South Africa under the theme of guaranteeing freedom of religion and prohibition of the coercive conversion program. The event, hosted by the South African Council of Churches (SACC), the National Interfaith Council of South Africa (NICSA), Gauteng Province Social Development, HWPL and IWPG (International Women’s Peace Group) under the UN ECOSOC, defined coercive conversion as a crime and stressed that there is a legal responsibility on a national level to address this matter.

Reverend Thamsanqa Mambo, President of the NICSA wrote an official letter to CCK urging for the legislative branch of the Republic of Korea to enact a law to cease coercive conversion programs and the pastors who practice and profit from the coercive conversion to immediately and permanently cease such activities.


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