A few weeks ago, I attended a local meeting of the international missionary organization, Open Doors, who work especially with the persecuted Church of Christ around the world.1 I was once again convinced of the orthodoxy of my rejection of the doctrine of preterism, when I heard that the New Testament eschatological prophecies of persecution were not only applicable to the early church and the time of the Reformation, but are continuing to be fulfilled today.
During the 1800’s, Christian missionaries from the Western world reached the Korean peninsula. In 1907, revival sprang up, especially in the northern part of Korea, and some 3,000 churches even sprang up in what is today known as North Korea. Once upon a time, Pyongyang was even known as the “Jerusalem of Asia.”2 Today, South Korea has one of the largest Presbyterian communities in the world.3
During the early part of modern history, the peninsula was united and governed as the Korean Empire. It was annexed by Japan in 1905, and, following Japan’s defeat in World War II, it was divided into Soviet- and American-occupied zones in 1945. After the North refused to participate in a United States-supervised election held in the South in 1948, and because both the Northern and Southern governments claimed sovereignty over the Korean peninsula as a whole, the Korean war broke out in 1950. Although the fighting was ended by an Armistice Agreement in 1953, these two countries are technically still at war, since no peace treaty has ever been signed.4 This is just one of many examples I often point out in order to show that, although the efforts of the Allied forces in World War II are to be admired, because they brought an end to Nazi Imperialism and the persecution of many Jewish people, the Allied Nations have done a great deal more evil in the post-WWII era than the Nazis did in the thirteen years of their reign in Germany. In order to fulfill the imperialist desires of both the liberal United States government and the Marxist Soviet governments, the Allies not only caused a nation to be divided and rise up against itself (in both Korea and Germany itself), but caused years of oppression to the people of eastern Germany and northern Korea, who were forced to accept communist rule. Furthermore, the United Nations, founded after the war in 1948, not only encouraged the uncontrolled mass migration of people of different ethnic groups, who were for thousands of years providentially preserved through a common lineage and culture, but also, through the ideals of cultural Marxism, started building a worldwide Genesis 11-like neo-Babelist society. Since the war, Christians in many parts of the world, like East Germany and North Korea, were denied the freedom to worship Christ through “a quiet and peaceable life” (I Tim. 2:2 – NKJV), because of the Marxist ideology propagated by many on the Allied side.
While our Christian brothers in the former East Germany were graciously freed from persecution in 1989 and can today practice their faith without any fear of persecution, the same can unfortunately not be said about the Christians in North Korea. When the Marxist leader Kim Il Sung, backed by the Soviets, intensified the persecution of Christians in the 1950s, those who renounced their faith and swore allegiance to him and his Juche ideology were spared, while those who persevered were either executed or confined in concentration camps where they did hard forced labor and were often tortured and killed. The persecution was so bad that, by the 1960s, there were no more Christians to be seen, at least on the surface, in North Korea.5 In 1972, Juche became the official state ideology in this single-party state.6 It is therefore practically the only religion in North Korea, and involves the worship of the deceased Kim Il Sung as a god and his son, Kim Jong Il as the son of god. Kim Il Sung is also seen in this country as its “eternal president.” In 2005 a human rights investigator, David Hawke, interviewed forty people who fled North Korea due to religion in that country, and the replies he got were terrifying. One person actually stated that “[a]ccording to party covenant, Article 1, section 1, all North Koreans are required to worship Kim Il Sung with all our heart and might, even after his death. We have to venerate the pictures and status of Kim Il Sung.” Another stated, “We must hang [Kim Il Sung’s] pictures. The pictures indicate that Kim Il Sung is god, as we hang the pictures for the purpose of reminding ourselves that we depend on him.”
Despite the fact that all religions except the Juche-ideology are officially illegal in North Korea, the government is clearly making a deliberate effort to obliterate Christianity, since it is told that other illegal religions receive much more lenient punishments. For example, despite the fact that fortune-tellers are illegal in North Korea, many fortune-telling houses are still found, and when fortune-tellers are arrested, they are quickly released. But on the other hand, Christians are either executed or sent to the same concentration camps as murderers and rapists to do forced labor, be tortured, and brutally killed. Christians are forced to worship in secret. Despite the fact that worshiping the Triune God is illegal in this country, some estimate that as much as 8% of the country’s people might be Christians.7 When I attended the Open Doors meeting, I heard one of the most tragic stories that recently happened in that country. It is of a little girl in North Korea, who was deceived into getting her parents arrested and herself put into the custody of strangers, by simply revealing their small family Bible to her schoolteacher.8
While the American government, under the presidency of both Bush and Obama, continues to invade and intervene in the homeland affairs of Islamic countries in order to spread the ideals of liberal democracy, they turn a blind eye to the brutal persecution that Christians suffer not only in communist North Korea, but also in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. There, despite the presence of many American troops, the persecution of Christians has actually intensified over the last year. Despite the godlessness of the vast majority of Western politicians today, it is our duty as Western Christians to not only be thankful for the religious freedom which we do have in our countries (without necessarily supporting the secular humanist ideology behind this idea), but also to “pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17 – NKJV) for these children of God who suffer so terribly under the country’s anti-Christian regime. We should pray also for those who suffer persecution in some Middle Eastern countries, as well as the Islamic state of Somalia, where persecution is also very tough on its small Christian community. Our great comfort, however, is that God works all things according to His perfect divine plan and has a purpose with the persecution that these people endure as well. It is our prayer that the North Korean people might one day, like their ethnic brothers and sisters in the south, have the privilege to worship among their own people in their homeland and in indigenous churches to the glory of God.
- http://www.opendoors.org.za ↩
- http://www.northkoreanchristians.com/persecution-christian.html ↩
- http://en.wikpedia.org/South_Korea ↩
- http://en.wikipedia.org/North_Korea ↩
- http://www.northkoreanchristians.com/persecution-christian.html ↩
- http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_North_Korea_(1972) ↩
- http://www.northkoreanchristians.com/christianity-north-korea.html ↩
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AErz0uWc-e0 ↩