Jubilee Campaign Press Release: Letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-In Regarding Religious Persecution During Pandemic


Jubilee campaign delivers Joint letter calling on the south koreaN Government to cease religious persecution in response to covid-19

The letter from 266 organizations and 14,832 individuals representing 57 countries highlights the troubling practices of the South Korean government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WASHINGTON D.C., September 1, 2020 – Jubilee Campaign, a religious liberty and human rights NGO, delivered a joint letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-In today regarding persecution and scapegoating of religious groups and individuals in South Korea during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter, sent in cooperation with the North Korea Freedom Coalition and members of the international religious freedom community, was sent on behalf of 266 organizations and 14,832 individuals from 57 countries around the world.

In recent months, media outlets and South Korean government officials, including President Moon himself, have targeted religious communities in South Korea accusing them of causing the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country. These public attacks have especially focused on Protestant Churches and their followers, even though infections have also been traced back to secular gatherings, businesses, public transportation, and other transmission methods. However, the South Korean government has offered little or no rebuke for these methods.

Throughout the summer, millions of individuals continued to flock to beaches, sporting events, political rallies restaurants, coffee shops, bars, karaoke rooms, markets, and tourist attractions across South Korea. However, Church congregations faced the brunt of public outcry and government criticism in the face of rising cases despite many Churches following health guidelines such as mandating masks and social distancing at their gatherings.

Ann Buwalda, Executive Director of Jubilee Campaign, stated, “Scapegoating and persecution of religious communities in any country is troubling, but I am shocked to see this coming from South Korea. I have worked hand-in-hand with South Koreans on issues of religious freedom and human rights for decades. I truly hope that President Moon will reconsider these tactics and honor the ‘first freedom’, which is religious liberty, an inalienable human right.” Tara O of the East Asia Research Center stated, “The Moon administration defies logic by only blaming the Church for the coronavirus spread, while ignoring crowds elsewhere.” Suzanne Scholte, Chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, stated, “The Moon administration’s attacks on North Korean defectors and human rights advocates and its targeting and jailing of journalists has expanded to the targeting of Churches and people of religious faith. President Moon must uphold the principles of freedom enshrined in South Korea’s constitution as well as its international obligations.”

The joint letter also highlights the possibility of an outbreak of religious persecution in South Korea and other parts of the world and emphasizes that the South Korean government’s recent actions have the potential to undermine religious tolerance and social unity in a nation founded on liberty. Jubilee Campaign and the signatories of the letter call on the South Korean government to uphold the fundamental right of religious freedom and to cease targeting specific communities, especially religious ones, for the alleged spread of the coronavirus.

About Jubilee Campaign:  Jubilee Campaign is a non-governmental organization that promotes the human rights and religious liberty of ethnic and religious minorities in nations around the world, aids and assists refugees and victims of human trafficking, and acts as a voice for those suffering in silence. Jubilee Campaign also specifically focuses on North Korean human rights and is a founding member of the North Korea Freedom Coalition.

For media inquiries, please call +1-703-503-2260 or email information@jubileecampaign.org.

To view and download the entire letter, click here.