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North Korea: Faith and Famine

ICC Note:

A story in the Washington Times highlights the brutality of the North Korean government against its own people, including its relentless persecution of Christians.

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10/8/08 North Korea (WashingtonTimes) Every time it seems the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is about to join the “world community,” the regime in Pyongyang reminds us of its criminal nature.

A North Korean soldier recently shot and killed a South Korean tourist. Pyongyang naturally stonewalled Seoul’s call for an investigation.

But most grotesque is what North Korea does to its own people. North Koreans are starving again and Pyongyang is calling for food aid from abroad.

North Korean repression of religious liberty is particularly harsh. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has published a new report, “A Prison Without Bars,” based on interviews with refugees and former security personnel. The details are horrendous.

There was a thriving Christian community in northern Korea before that territory was occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. However, explains the commission, “Independent religious practice is considered a direct political threat.”

Indeed, adds the commission: “Religion is seen as the ‘advance guard’ of aggression” by America. It comes as no surprise, then, to learn that there is no religious freedom in North Korea.

The few churches and other worship centers in Pyongyang “were not for the North Korean people but were showplaces for foreigners and not ‘real churches like those in China and South Korea.’ ” Outside these venues, religious literature is banned.

While Christianity is the principal target of North Korean religious repression, it also offers North Koreans the greatest hope for the future. For Christianity challenges the basis of the North Korean tyranny.

One member of the secret police observed that the authorities treat more leniently refugees who flee to China simply in search of jobs and food, even if they seek aid from churches, than those “who confess to religious belief, or are suspected of spreading Christianity.”

The commission cites another former security agent explaining that “Christianity was suppressed more than Buddhism because it is against the One and Only Ideology. Kim Il-sung is god; a real God [cannot] replace him.”

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