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Persecution watchdog group reminds people to not be fooled by Korean display of unity at Winter Olympics

(REUTERS/Jorge Silva)Cheerleaders of North Korea await the start of the Winter Olympics ceremony.

A persecution watchdog group has reminded people about North Korea's record of human rights abuses in light of its attempt at showing unity with South Korea at the Winter Olympics.

Open Doors has warned that North Korea has been relentless in its persecution of Christians despite its display of unity at the Olympics.

"As many nations come together to take part in the Winter Olympics, let us not forget that every day over 300,000 Christians [in North Korea] are denied the right to take part in the religious observance of their choice. They are a beleaguered community who are fighting for their very survival," Matthew Rees, advocacy policy officer at Open Doors, said in a statement, as reported by The Christian Post.

The charity noted that the state controls every aspect of life in the country, and it has been ranked as the worst nation in the world when it comes to persecution of Christians for the past 16 years.

"The belief that God is a higher authority than the nation's leader, Kim Jong-un, is seen as a threat that must be crushed," Open Doors stated in its release.

"Tens of thousands of Christians are incarcerated in horrific labour camps, and thousands more keep their faith in Christ a complete secret," it continued.

The charity has noted that the church in North Korea is still growing despite the intense persecution. Open Doors has estimated that there are currently 300,000 Christians in North Korea.

Meanwhile, defectors have continued to speak out about the abuses they suffered for simply wanting a democratic form of government or for worshipping Jesus Christ.

On Friday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with a group of North Korean defectors, some of whom had suffered the torture and abuse that many in North Korea are experiencing today.

The vice president was accompanied by the father of Otto Warmbier, who had been jailed in North Korea for months and was sent back home to the U.S. last year in a brain-dead state.

During his address at the meeting, Pence explained that North Korea would conduct a "charm offensive" at the Winter Olympics. He warned that North Korea would try to "hijack the message and imagery" of the event and said that the world should not let the regime hide behind the Olympic banner.

As defectors speak out against the abuses in North Korea, some media outlets have been accused of glorifying the Kim regime.

CNN had reportedly published a controversial headline that reads, "Kim Jong Un's Sister Is Stealing the Show at the Winter Olympics," prompting criticism on social media.

Critics have argued that by shining a positive light on Kim Yo-jong, who met with the South Korean president on Saturday, the media outlets are overlooking her family's brutal regime.

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