North Korea is still trying to kill Jesus today. The communist nation is attempting to snuff out any influence of Jesus, by torturing and killing his followers. It has been that way for a long time, and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
The Way It Was
The situation today in North Korea makes it difficult to imagine a time when Jesus was welcome there. Yet, 60 years ago Christianity flourished in that land. In fact, back then, according to Nina Shea:
[T]he North Korean capital city of Pyongyang was nicknamed ‘Asia’s Jerusalem’ due to the strong influence of Christianity there. Some 2000 Christian churches dotted the country’s northern countryside…
Missionary efforts thrived throughout the Korean peninsula back in 1946. The evidence of Christian influence exists in South Korea. In fact, the largest church in the world is the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, boasting 1 million members!
The Revolution Against Jesus
The days of Jesus’ welcome in the northern half of Korea ended in 1948 when communist Kim Il Sung took power. The people’s revolution became a war against Christ that continues, to this day.
The persecution of Christians is not confined to North Korea. Imprisonment, property seizures, property destruction, torture, and murder happen to those of the Christian faith—more than to any other religious group on the planet. It happens all over the world, but in North Korea, the statistics of these atrocities are unknown.
The Darkest Spot in Asia
The image above gives a stark illustration of reality for Christians in North Korea today. They are dark, cold, and hidden from the rest of the world. The accounts of Christians in this dark spot of Asia are few and far between. Most reports come from mission organizations who dare to break North Korean law to reach out to believers. Little news has ever come from believers who have been persecuted in North Korea. They usually do not live to tell their tales. One such account has come from a North Korean woman who survived, and wrote the book, “Eyes of The Tailless Animals.” Her name is Soon Ok Lee.
Becoming a “Tailless Animal”
Soon began her life in 1947.
[She was born into a family] of privilege and hope… When Korea was a colony of Japan, my father fought for Korea’s independence along with Kim Il Sung, who became the dictator of North Korea. My grandfather and father were honored men.
That privilege of birth was accompanied by a thorough propaganda-laden indoctrination into the Communist party. Soon described herself as being married to the party.
She went to the renowned People’s Economic College. In 1969, the 22-year-old secured a job as a supervisor of a material distribution center in Onsung County, North Korea. Soon was a loyal North Korean.
She was happily married to a teacher, he was also from a good family and, eventually, became a principal in the school system. They had a son who worked with military police at a prison camp.
After a business trip to China in 1986, Soon was accused of withholding material against Party rules,
[when she refused to give an] officer of North Korea’s Public Security Bureau… more fabric for a suit than was his share. …I refused to satisfy his greed (and) was thrown into the dark world of the prison system.
After 14 months of torture and interrogation, Soon was sentenced to 13 years in a North Korean prison.
The prison was a place where the ‘animals that do not have tails’ lived. That is what the prisoners were.
Discovering Christ in a North Korean Prison
Soon was shocked and totally confused. She never thought that she would be arrested in North Korea. The interrogation was brutal, but worse was awaiting her in prison.
The food was rationed so that each prisoner was allotted 700 grams or about eight ounces of food per meal. However, as Soon describes, the prisoners did not receive their allotment.
…the rice and beans were taken by the officers, so the prisoners had only corn and salty cabbage soup all year round. Consequently, prisoners received less than 300 grams of food per day… The starvation and cold were the hardest things for new prisoners to endure.
The prison workday began at 5:30 a.m. and concluded at 11 p.m. Everyone worked, ate, and went to the toilet in groups at the same time. Even when they were asleep, again in groups, for the four hours a night that was allowed, two prisoners would watch them and “report what the other prisoners said in their sleep.”
As bad as the treatment was for all prisoners, Soon noticed that one group was treated worse than all the rest. They were in prison for being “superstition believers.” They were given the worst jobs, such as “cleaning the toilets and removing the human excrement.” These were first steps confirming that North Korea was trying to kill Jesus then, as they are today.
These “believers” were also singled out from other prisoners:
Once a month, the believers were placed in the yard in front of all the prisoners and asked to deny their belief. The officers told them that if they did, they would receive a less difficult assignment… they even tried to pursuade these prisoners by telling them they would be freed if they denied their faith.
It was the first time Soon had ever come into contact with Christians in North Korea. She marveled because, despite the terrible treatment they received, “not one of them denied; they all kept their faith.”
Faith Demonstrated in Prison
Christians in North Korea are an embarrassing problem, especially in a country that is educated to believe their dictator is a god. Simply being a believer is a criminal offense, with the typical sentence of 10 years or more in prison. They rarely survive their sentence.
Soon admits she did not understand these believers of Jesus:
The abuse they received was so much greater than the abuse other prisoners got. If a prison guard finds a way to convince a person to deny God, the guard will get promoted. So the guards try any way possible to do this.
Christians got less food and clothing than others, and they were completely isolated from other prisoners, lest they shame the North Korean dictator with their faith. They were beaten more often and yet halfway through the beatings many believers—
would stand up… and begin to sing hymns and say ‘Amen.’ The guards thought they were crazy and took them back to the electric torture room. I never saw any of the believers return from that room.
Soon witnessed worse horrors inflicted upon believers of Jesus. In part two, the abuse of Christians she saw during her time in the North Korean prison is chronicled, as well as Soon’s personal discovery of Jesus after leaving prison, and escaping from North Korea.
Opinion News by D.T. Osborn
Edited by Cathy Milne
The Voice of The Martyrs, March 2017: MARTYRED by NORTH KOREAN ASSASSINS
Living Sacrifice Book Company: Eyes of The Tailless Animals: Prison Memoirs of a North Korean Woman; Soon Ok Lee; 1999.
Broadman & Holman Publishers: In The Lion’s Den; Nina Shea; 1997.
CHARISMA NEWS: DAVID YONGGI CHO: Pastor of the World’s Largest Church
FOX NEWS: Christians most persecuted group in the world as vicious attacks grow
Featured Image Courtesy of (stephan)’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License