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December 20, 2011

How Will the Death of Kim Jong Il Affect Christians in North Korea?

Over the weekend the world was alerted to the reality that Kim Jong Il, North Korea's dictator had died.  I have to admit that one of my first thoughts was how is this going to impact Christians in the underground church in North Korea, and how will this impact the Christians in South Korea.

Then shortly after the announcement we were told that North Korea did some missile tests.  Which is something I expected because they want to make sure that the world knows that they still have nukes and want to give the appearance of control after their dictator had died.

In a report from Mission Network News today, Paul Estabrooks with Open Doors speculates the following:

A government statement called on North Koreans to "loyally follow" his son, Kim Jong Un. However, Estabrooks isn't sure his son will actually lead the country. "He is the pick of his father. It's very likely that he will be at least be a figurehead leader, but how much real power he has is the political issue that's in question."

Many are concerned that Kim Jong Un will create a crisis to show how tough he is. "This is always the fear with Korea, because they still believe the United States still wants to wipe them off the map. And, part of that is because there never was a peace agreement after the Korean War ended in 1953."

For Christians in Korea, pray for change. "There are still 50,000 to 70,000 [Christians] in labor camps. We know over all there are over 200,000 political prisoners in labor camps in North Korea. They're treated very poorly. They're basically starved."

However, there are Christians in North Korea, who aren't in labor camps. Estabrooks says they, "have to be extremely secretive. They meet in small groups, usually just the family, and they're under tremendous duress when they do anything that might reveal the fact that they are followers of Jesus."

In another report from AsiaNews.it we also see reporting on the the state of the people in North Korea after the death of Kim Jong Il, and they are saying that the people are crying out for food and not the late dictator.

Screen shot 2011-12-20 at 12.16.36 PMSeoul (AsiaNews) – The sorrow expressed by North Koreans following Kim Jong-il’ death, which national TV showed with great emphasis, “is not linked to the dictator’s death. Of course, some are sad for what happened, but they are connected to the regime; they are not ordinary people. Most are crying because they are relieved as well as afraid about the future. Above all, they are hungry,” a source living and working near the Demilitarised Zone told AsiaNews.

What is broadcast, the source explained, “is propaganda masquerading as a spontaneous show of grief. The fact is that there is no food in North Korea and that 2 million people might not survive the winter. As the new dictator, Kim Jong-un (Kim Jong-il’s third son) has a reputation for cruelty, people have good reasons to cry, but we’d be wrong to think that it is the end of an era, as suggested on TV. This era was very dark.”

If your heart breaks for the people of North Korea, like mine does, please add the people and their new leader to your prayer list.  Ask for the Lord to raise up a leader who will care for the needs of their people and allow the gospel to go forth, so that the people of North Korea will know love and real peace.