Government Honors Thesis: Sonya Chung

Title: To Proclaim Liberty to the Captives: The Promise of Christianity for Human Rights in North Korea

Author: Sonya Chung


This paper examines the religious structures of the North Korean regime and the religious activities of the people to argue that religion in general, and Christianity in particular, can be used as a resource for cultivating human rights consciousness in North Korea. Christianity provides an alternative belief system more compatible to human rights than the state Juche ideology to which the North Koreans can adhere. In fact, close examination shows that Juche’s structural roots were likely developed from observance of the Christian religion, making the Christian alternative a viable one. Theologically based human rights have the potential to form among Christian believers in North Korea’s underground church through doctrine that emphasizes expressing devotion to God through loving one’s neighbors, creating a community in which human rights can be mutually recognized and practiced. This is not to argue that Christianity is a prerequisite for human rights in North Korea, but that the benefits of Christianity can be a way for North Koreans living under hostile conditions to ultimately understand that possessing human rights is both a possibility and right.