Kenneth Bae, an American Christian and North Korean tour guide, detained in April by the North Korean regime, was sentenced to 15 years of forced labor in a North Korean gulag earlier this month. The regime accuses Bae of attempting to overthrow the Kim Jong-Un Regime by way of a an alleged coup named “Operation Jericho,” a prayer and worship mission Bae coordinated to occur in the North Korean city of Rason. Bae’s arrest and sentencing once again speak to the North Korean regime’s hostility to free religious expression and practice.
05/22/2013 North Korea (HuffPost) – A 44-year-old American citizen, jailed last year in North Korea accused of seeking to topple the government, said in 2009 that he wished to “collapse” the “walls” separating North Korea from the rest of the world and that he had asked U.S. churches to send members to worship in the hermetic communist nation.
According to a recently unearthed video, Kenneth Bae, who was sentenced to 15 years hard labor by a North Korean court in April, gave a sermon in 2009 at a Korean-American church in St. Louis, Mo., during which he said he wanted to bring hundreds of Christians into North Korea to pray.
“We are going to send 300 people to pray in [the North Korean city of] Rason. … I’m now touring churches in the U.S., asking them to send 10 people per church to worship for one week,” Bae said, per a translation of the speech provided by NK News.
Bae also spoke of using prayer to “collapse” the walls of the notoriously reclusive nation.
“Just as God made people enter Jericho and collapse it without force, I hope the wall between [North Korea and the world] will collapse soon, through just our praying and worship in Rason,” Bae preached, according to the NK News translation.
Bae also described an incident in North Korea where he got a crowd of 30 North Koreans to chant “God is Great” while he and his missionary team sang songs and played guitar.
Although North Korea claims to guarantee freedom of religion, the country has reportedly doled out harsh punishments to people accused of spreading religious beliefs.