The death of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Il, was reported today. The future of the nation remains in doubt, as does the fate of the thousands of Christians who are still imprisoned in North Korea’s horrendous concentration camps.
Will Kim Jong-un, the heir presumptive to the leadership of the nation, relax his father’s policies of intolerance against believers and let the Christians go? Or will the policies of hardline atheism continue to be enforced?
Questions such as these are especially tense this Christmas since North Korea has threatened South Korea if the latter puts up Christmas lights. (Within the atheistic dictatorship of North Korea, any reminder about Jesus’ birth is strictly taboo and they would prefer not to have to see Christmas lights across the border in Seoul.)
South Korea has gone into a state of alert in case the North (with whom they are still officially at war since no peace treaty has ever been signed) chooses to attack.
The CNN video below explains the brief history of the late Kim Jong Il, although strangely they have left out all mention of his horrendous crimes against the Christian community. To address the balance, below the video we have copied the report we ran in March 2009.
Persecution of Christians in North Korea
North Korea is universally recognized as leading the world in the persecution of Christians. While opposed to all religions, Kim Jong-il believes that Christianity was a particularly harmful threat to his power. Under his direction, Christians are routinely, beaten, tortured, arrested for life, mutilated and murdered.
Given the obvious secrecy of Christianity in North Korea, it is difficult to calculate the size of the church. However, it is estimated that less than 2% of the population are Christian. These Christians hold secret meetings in houses and caves.
If a North Korean is caught carrying a Bible, it is impossible to save your life short of divine intervention. Those who get executed are the lucky ones as punishment often also includes the imprisonment of a Christian’s mother, father, sisters, brothers, children and grandchildren.
“There are no preliminary hearings when religious people get caught,” one former agent said. “[We] regard them as anti-revolutionary elements. When such an offender is caught in North Korea, the NSA officers surround the person and kick and beat the person severely before interrogating.”
Communist Police stop at no limit to hunt out and punish Christians, including pretending to be Christians in order to infiltrate their underground prayer meetings. The information they obtain is then used to identify and arrest Christians, who are then either executed or taken to prison camps.
At least a quarter of all North Korean Christians have been incarcerated in prison camps, where inmates face everything from starvation to beatings to Nazi-style gas chambers to experimental torture techniques that defy comprehension. Inhuman experiments are also performed on babies that come to the camps.
Many North Korean Christians have found refuge by fleeing to neighboring China. Between 30,000 and 300,000 North Koreans now reside in China. However, if any of these Christians are caught, they are immediately sent home where they face certain death. Notwithstanding, many North Koreans, including former prison guards who have defected, have successfully remained hidden in China where they have given secret interviews to the Committee For Human Rights in North Korea. From these interviews it has emerged that the following procedures permeate the detention systems:
- water torture
- motionless-kneeling for periods of up to 6 days (detainees who move while they are supposed to be kneeling motionless are handcuffed from the upper bars of their cells with their feet off the floor)
- beating prisoners to death
- sleep deprivation
- forcing detainees to beat each other
- breaking fingers
- forcing prisoners to live in permanent situations of deliberately contrived semi-starvation
- placing prisoners in a 1.5-meter-square (16.5-feet-square) punishment cell for a week or more, where they are unable to sit up or lie down
- forcing prisoners to remain for long periods in the cold
- forcing prisoners to sit motionless for six day periods
- routine infanticide and forced abortions at prison camps, including stamping on the necks of babies until they die.
In addition to the above, documents smuggled out by defectors reveal routine chemical experimentation on human beings. One document from 2002, stamped “top secret”, reads: “The above person is transferred from … camp number 22 for the purpose of human experimentation of liquid gas for chemical weapons.”
For obvious reasons, missionary activity to North Korea remains highly secretive.
It is with great sadness that we are not able to report any improvement in this horrific situation. In fact, autumn 2009 saw new challenges for Christians as the nation’s dictator, Kim Jong-Il, called for a ‘100-day battle’ to strengthen the economy. What this meant in practice was that everyone became his slave and had to go to work on state farms. Those found on the street without a valid reason were immediately shipped off to a concentration camp. This has meant that Christian fathers have not been able to provide for their families, and in the Hwangae province it is normal to see children lying dead in the streets. Some parents have been working illegally at night to provide for their children before reporting back to the state jobs in the morning.
PRAY: that God bring a miracle of deliverance in this country where Christians are suffering even worst atrocities than those occurring under Islamic regimes and even worse than those which the early Christians faced at the hands of Rome. Ask the Lord to grant them victory over their enemies and courage to boldly affirm Christ in the midst of unimaginable suffering. Pray for the missionaries who have been secretly labouring to bring Bibles and comfort to our brothers in North Korea. Ask the Lord to break the teeth of our North Korean enemies (Ps. 58:6). Pray that they would melt away as waters which run continually; when they bend their bow to shoot their arrows, let them be as cut in pieces (Ps. 58:7). May the righteous in North Korea rejoice by seeing God’s vengeance and may they wash their feet in the blood of the wicked (Ps. 58:10), that all shall say, “Truly there is a reward for the righteous: truly he is a God that judges the earth.” (Ps. 58:11).
WRITE: to your MP and ask him to ask the Foreign Secretary what he is doing to help Christians in North Korea.