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Activist Brings Int’l Attention to N Korea ‘s Christians

ICC Note: N Korea uses high tech to locate preaches trying to help sick and needy.

9/19/07, N Korea , ( –

Newsweek magazine has reported on “underground” Christians in North Korea , now in the spotlight because of Son Jong-nam, a former defector who returned to the North to conduct missionary work.

Son grew up in affluent circumstances as the son of a high-ranking officer. According to Newsweek, Son’s pregnant wife lost her baby after being beaten by a North Korean interrogator for criticizing Kim Jong-il’s handling of the 1997 famine. Son fled to China where he met Christian missionaries who provide aid for North Korean defectors.

Son converted and later returned to his home country as a missionary. He was apprehended and accused of being a spy and now sits on death row in Pyongyang .

About 100,000 North Koreans clandestinely keep the Christian faith, Newsweek estimated. Christianity spread to the peninsula in the late 19th century. Even the late Kim Il-sung, North Korea ‘s first dictator, came from a devout Christian family. Most North Korean Christians fled to the South during the Korean War, but others who stayed behind still practice underground, the magazine said.

According to missionaries, North Korean Christians keep their Bibles buried in their backyards, wrapped in vinyl. Some preachers in China conduct long-distance services via mobile phone, the report said, reading Bible passages and praying for the sick and needy for five to ten minutes. The services have to be kept short because North Korea uses GPS trackers to locate the phones, the magazine said.