The United States said Friday it will use sanctions against North Korea for its "horrible" record on human rights and religious freedom.
Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, told reporters that the situation in North Korea is "deplorable" and cited the example of a woman who was sent to a prison camp for having a Bible.
"North Korea's horrible on human rights and religious freedom," he said. "They've been a Country of Particular Concern for years."
The U.S. State Department on Friday released its annual report on international religious freedom, which covers the period between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018.
It notes that the U.N. Commission of Inquiry in 2014 concluded there was an "almost complete denial" by the North Korean government of the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and that in many instances, the government's violations of human rights constituted crimes against humanity.
In the reporting period, North Korea released a detained American pastor in May. In December, the State Department identified three entities and three North Korean officials associated with serious human rights abuses or censorship.
"We're going to continue to exert strong pressure," Brownback said. "Unless they change radically, they'll continue to be a Country of Particular Concern for us."
The U.S. in November redesignated North Korea as a CPC for the 18th consecutive year.
"These carry sanctions with them as well, and we'll use those in North Korea and other places that are particularly egregious cases of religious freedom violations," the ambassador said.(Yonhap)