The following remarks were given at the Seoul Press Center by HHK_Catacombs’ founder, Tim Peters on the occasion of the book release, entitled Persecution, co-authored by Pastor Peter Jung and Christian Activist, H.T. Kim on Thursday, July 25, 2013
“Two Nations Persecute North Korean Christians”
Today I am pleased to congratulate fellow Christian activist, H.T. Kim, and Pastor Peter Jung for their collaborative effort to author this timely and moving volume simply entitled, Persecution. This remarkable volume portrays the extraordinary severity of persecution of North Korean Christians. Both of these Christian men are well-qualified to discuss this painful issue as they have been in the mission field in direct contact with North Koreans in crisis for approximately a decade and a half.
Even a brief perusal of the text and painfully detailed artwork in this impressive new book will make clear why North Korea has been ranked the worst persecutor in the world for the 11th year running in the highly respected Worldwide Watchlist, a research project conducted annually by the international agency, Open Doors. It must be noted that North Korea ranked worse than such notorious persecutors as Afghanistan, where the Taliban is growing stronger day by day, Iran, Libya, Niger, Syria and Somalia to name just a few of the top 50 persecuting governments on the globe. To quote from the organization’s website:
“For the eleventh year running, this is the most difficult place on earth to be a Christian. One of the remaining Communist states, it is vehemently opposed to religion of any kind. Christians are classified as hostile and face arrest, detention, torture, even public execution. There is a system of labor camps including the renowned prison No. 15, which reportedly houses 6,000 persecuted Christians alone. Despite the severe oppression, there is a growing underground church movement of an estimated 400,000 Christians.”
Helping Hands Korea_Catacombs is also intimately aware of the names and faces that make up this nebulous term, ‘North Korean persecution.’ We know this both through our work of helping the persecuted church inside the nightmarish “Secret State.” However, we are also fully aware of the excruciating consequences of persecution when new Christians, those who come to embrace faith in Jesus Christ as refugees in China, are forcibly repatriated to the DPRK by Chinese authorities. This horrific and illegal practice includes repatriation of children and pre-teen orphans who have escaped the state institutions of North Korea, which are a mockery of actual social welfare facilities for homeless children.
The following heart-cry was sent to us from China earlier this year by an elementary school-aged child who was an orphan in North Korea until she desperately fled across the Yalu River to China.
My parents died and I grew up in a North Korean orphanage. I have no memory of my parents. I was almost always hungry while in the orphanage. In 2008, I escaped from the orphanage with other children and became a beggar child in the market of Musan. We North Korean beggars spent the winter in China. In North Korea, we could hardly find a meal by begging but we were able to have three meals a day in China by begging in the market. In China, one day, we met a Christian missionary on the street who protected us in his shelter. There, we learned Chinese and also the Bible. We watched many South Korean TV dramas and listened to many South Korean songs. I want to go to school. I have a dream to be a hair-designer for South Korean TV talents. Please help me realize my dream.
I am happy to report that this young child is in a very safe and in a permanent resettled location now. However, with this innocent child’s testimony as a backdrop, I beg you to consider the horror of nine similar orphans who were repatriated from Laos, through Beijing, China and back to the DPRK in May of this year. The case is well-documented and it’s not necessary for me to elaborate on that tragedy.
However, I wish to argue at this timely juncture, that the persecution of North Korean Christians does not only take place in the kwaliso as well as other detention centers and SSA bureaus within the DPRK. It has already been firmly established and documented that Christians are categorically and systematically abused in these places. I submit that North Korean refugees who have come to embrace the Christian faith as refugees in China are also persecuted by virtue of the repatriation policy of China. Any North Korean refugee, whether Christian or not, has a well-founded fear of persecution when repatriated to the North because they departed their country without government permission.
Please note that newly converted North Korean refugees have a double reason to tremble in fear at the coming wrath by authorities, since Chinese authorities routinely provide their DPRK counterparts background information, including contact with Christian missionaries, on captured refugees that are being repatriated. In effect, by virtue of the policies of two nations: outright Christian persecution by the DPRK, and forcible repatriation of Christian refugees by the government of China that has full knowledge of the inhuman treatment that Christians will face after repatriation, we can say that North Korean Christians are the victims of persecution by state fiat, that is, by virtue of the policies of two nations, the DPRK and China, which acts as an enabler of the persecution policies of its neighbor. It is imperative to combat both sides of this persecution!
I strongly urge the newly formed Commission of Inquiry under UN auspices to consider these dual aspects of persecution of Christians that have been inflicted on North Koreans in crisis by two anti-Christian governments.
Once again, I congratulate H.T. Kim and Pastor Peter Jung on this important publishing milestone regarding such a crucial, if painful, topic.
Thank you very much.