Christians were also at the forefront of
the resistance against the Japanese occupation, that ended in 1945, and they
helped lead the fight in the 1980s for democracy in their country. Today,
Christians comprise about 30% of the South Korean population, and a vibrant
Christian expression is everywhere. I have
about how Korean Christians are making a growing impact on global
By contrast, North Korea is once again a
land of martyrs.
It is sadly ironic that right after
former US President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – one of
his “achievements” being North Korea’s 1994 promise to stop developing
nuclear weapons; “kind of like a miracle,” in the ex-president’s words - the
North Korean authorities should reveal that they are continuing to develop
nuclear weapons. For it was also President Carter who, after meeting North
Korean dictator Kim Il Sung, reportedly pronounced him “friendly” towards
Well, yes, he was friendly when he
thought Christians might help prop up his regime, and garner some
international support. That’s why he occasionally sent North Korean
“Christian” leaders to travel abroad for international conferences.
My wife is Korean, and about six or seven
years ago some North Korean Christians came to Australia for talks. A pastor
friend met them.
“They said that North
Koreans couldn’t worship any more, because the Americans had bombed and
destroyed their churches during the Korean War,” our friend told us. “They
also said that North Koreans didn’t really need religion, because they had
Kim Il Sung.”
And in a crazy way it was true that North
Koreans didn’t need Christianity. After all, they already had the father
(the late Great Leader Kim Il Sung), son (the present Dear Leader Kim Jong
Il) and spirit (“juche” – the doctrine of self-reliance that supposedly
inspires the populace).
Yet Christianity has persisted, even
though any friendliness that might have been shown to the faith by Kim Il
Sung has not been replicated by his son. He is a tyrant. In the words of the
National Association of Evangelicals, in May, North Korea today is "more
brutal, more deliberate, more implacable, and more purely genocidal" than
any other nation.
As many as 100,000 Christians are in
concentration camps, enduring regular torture. Executions are common.
Prisoners unable to contain their horror
at executions are deemed disloyal to the party and are punished with
electrical shock, often to death. Others are sent into solitary confinement
in containers so cramped that their legs become permanently paralysed. Eight
Christians working in a prison smelting factory died instantly when molten
iron was poured onto them, one by one, for refusing to deny their faith.
Yet something remarkable is happening. A
growing number of North Koreans are escaping, to China or South Korea, and
many of them are turning to Christianity. There at last they find hope.
So while no decent
person in a million years would wish on North Korean Christians their
present sufferings, it is possible to see in them the seed of a future
German doctor Norbert Vollertsen was
stationed in North Korea in 1999-2000 for the relief agency German
Emergency Doctors. Later he interviewed hundreds of North Korean refugees in
China and South Korea. His message: what has been going on in North Korea
for more than half a century bears a strong resemblance to the World War II
Nazi genocide against Jews.
“Like the Jews then,
Christians in North Korea face their executioners praying and singing
hymns," he related. But as the church father Tertullian…said at the dawn of
Christianity: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."
Vollertsen, whose reports have made him a legendary figure in Japan and
South Korea, found out that as a result of this Communist campaign of
persecution an underground church was growing rapidly. "I am sure that once
North Korea is free, Christianity will boom there in a way that will even
dwarf its growth in the South."
October 25th, 2002
The Drudge Report meets the Gulag
Archipelago. That’s how the Chosun Journal website describes itself. It is
appropriate. For the Chosun Journal is devoted to the continuing online
exposure of the horrors of the brutal North Korean regime.
October 22nd, 2002