US citizen Jeffrey Fowle, a committed Christian, is to go on trial in North Korea after being detained and charged with “perpetrating hostile acts” against the state. He left a Bible in his hotel room while on a tour of the country and North Korea’s official news agency reported that he “perpetrated activities that violated the laws of our republic, which did not fit his stated purpose of visiting our republic as a tourist.” His family in the US have insisted that he was not for missionary purposes.
06/30/2014 North Korea (Christian Today)- 56-year-old Jeffrey Fowle was detained after apparently leaving a Bible in his hotel room while on a tour of the country, while Matthew Miller, 24, supposedly tore up his tourist visa at the airport upon arriving in North Korea, shouting that he had come “to the DPRK after choosing it as a shelter.”
State-controlled Korean Central News Agency has reported that investigations into, and personal statements from, both Fowle and Miller “confirmed suspicions” about their behaviour – though it has refrained from detailing exactly what this means.
Officials have, however, confirmed that Fowle – a committed Christian – was investigated for acts “inconsistent with the purpose of a tourist visit”, though his family in the US have insisted he was not in North Korea for missionary purposes.
Though North Korea is often cited as an atheistic state, it has been described by the co-founder of Seoul USA – a ministry dedicated to supporting defected and underground Christians in North Korea – as “one of the most religious nations on earth”.
Rev Eric Foley explains that North Korea, which has topped Open Doors’ World Watch List for Christian persecution 12 years in a row, “is a unique nation…in that it’s the only nation ever to be founded on a distortion of the Christian faith.
“Kim Il-Sung [the first president of North Korea; Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather] grew up in a Christian home and as a result of his exposure to the Christian faith he became convinced that the apparatus of Christian worship – meeting together weekly, complete and total devotion to a divinity, and singing hymnals – could be adapted to a state religion, which in North Korea is known as Juche. It’s essentially the worship of the Kim family,” he told Christian Today in a recent interview.
This means that Christianity is seen as a “direct challenge” to state ideology, and practising the faith is illegal. Those found to be Christians are thrown into concentration camps, or even killed.