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North Korean Christians arrested; current status unknown

ICC Note

“Following Jesus Christ is considered treason in North Korea, where the government mandates that worship is reserved for deceased dictator Kim Il Sung and his son, the current dictator, Kim Jong Il,”

9 November, 2007 North Korea (MNN)-In a highly unusual press conference in Pyongyang in September, the National Security Service of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced the arrest of “foreign spies” and “native citizens working for a foreign intelligence service.” The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), a ministry serving Christians in restricted nations who are persecuted for their faith, announced today that those arrested in North Korea were in fact Christian believers and not spies.

The security service spokesman at the press conference, Li Su Gil, said that those arrested “carried out the missions by means of diverse espionage equipment.” He did not name any of those arrested.

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These North Korean Christians had started a portrait photography studio to help support themselves, and had registered their businesses with appropriate government authorities. According to VOM sources working in North Korea , they were not involved in espionage activities. It is believed that equipment taken by the government was in fact photography equipment used in their portrait work.

“Following Jesus Christ is considered treason in North Korea, where the government mandates that worship is reserved for deceased dictator Kim Il Sung and his son, the current dictator, Kim Jong Il,” said Todd Nettleton, spokesperson for VOM. “The Voice of the Martyrs is proud to stand with Christ’s followers in North Korea , and deeply concerned for the well-being of our brothers and sisters there. We call on the North Korean government to release these Christian believers, who were involved in legitimate business activities to support themselves and their families.”

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VOM sources do not know the whereabouts of the arrested believers. It is possible that they have already been tried and executed.

“We pray that they are alive,” said Nettleton. “But we know it is possible that they have finished their race on earth and gone on to their eternal reward in heaven. We encourage Christians everywhere to pray for our brothers and sisters in North Korea , who must constantly face the threat of arrest, torture and execution simply for living out their faith in Jesus Christ.”

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