Probably the most unusual religion story out this past weekend was an Associated Press piece on the underground Christians of North Korea. They have been ranked the most persecuted church in the world for the past 18 years.
It’s tough to get people to talk about what really goes on in North Korea, as so few people survive escaping the Hermit Kingdom. This Fox News story gives an idea of the hell that prison life is and no doubt these stories don’t tell half of it.
Still the AP gave us a few ideas on how the North Koreans keep on keeping on.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — One North Korean defector in Seoul describes her family back home quietly singing Christian hymns every Sunday while someone stood watch for informers. A second cowered under a blanket or in the toilet when praying in the North. Yet another recalls seeing a fellow prison inmate who’d been severely beaten for refusing to repudiate her religion.
These accounts from interviews with The Associated Press provide a small window into how underground Christians in North Korea struggle to maintain their faith amid persistent crackdowns…
One woman interviewed said she converted about 10 relatives and neighbors and held secret services before defecting to the South.
“I wanted to build my church and sing out as loud as I could,” said the woman, who is now a pastor in Seoul. She insisted on only being identified with her initials, H.Y., because of serious worries about the safety of her converts and family in the North.
The pastor and others spoke with AP because they wanted to highlight the persecution they feel Christians face in North Korea. Although the comments cannot be independently confirmed, they generally match the previous claims of other defectors.
My one problem with the last paragraph; “they feel” Christians face in North Korea? Isn’t it pretty established by now that Christians are persecuted there? Some have compared it to Nero’s Rome, so let’s drop the caveats, OK?
The account tells of some haunting stories.
Another defector in Seoul, Kwak Jeong-ae, 65, said a fellow inmate in North Korea told guards about her own religious beliefs and insisted on using her baptized name, rather than her original Korean name, during questioning in 2004.
“She persisted in saying, ‘My name is Hyun Sarah; it’s the name that God and my church have given to me,’” Kwak said. “She told (the interrogators), ‘I’m a child of God and I’m not scared to die. So if you want to kill me, go ahead and kill me.’”
Kwak said Hyun told her about what she did during the interrogations, and Hyun’s actions were confirmed to Kwak by another inmate who was interrogated alongside her. Kwak said she later saw Hyun, then 23, coming back from an interrogation room with severe bruises on her forehead and bleeding from her nose. Days later, guards took Hyun away for good.
Actions like that strike many defectors and South Koreans as extraordinary
I’m not sure what that last sentence means. Does it mean the story is unbelievable?