Saturday, January 27, 2007

Another reason to oppose North Korea

Yes, I know, it's a right-wing publication ... but World Net Daily had a report the other day about the extent to which Christians are being persecuted in the appropriately named Hermit Kingdom. Four people professing Christianity were executed recently. Their crime? They had a Korean New Testament in their possession.

One can expect this kind of oppression in most dictatorial regimes -- except that in many authoritarian or totalitarian systems, there remains an active Church (regardless of denomination) which works either actively or behind the scenes to promote its message as well as act as an official or semi-official opposition. This certainly was the case in many former East Bloc countries -- Poland, Croatia and Slovakia to name just three. In those cases religion certainly wasn't encouraged but it was tolerated. While the end of communism was a secular act, the people behind it was backed by faith and the sense of inalienable rights.

Why would the PDRK be so vehement in its actions and its desire to crush any light the Church might attempt to spark? Because the light of freedom, no matter how dim, ultimately outshines any darkness. That's not to say it's necessary to be religious to have freedom, but even secular freedom movements normally have at least some elements based on common beliefs or ethical values. And perhaps the Kim family has actually read and taken seriously the words of Jesus of Nazareth when he said he would return when his Gospel was preached to all nations (Matthew 24:14). They've seen the fall of the Iron Curtain and how freedom eventually swept through most of Latin America. And they saw the downfall of apartheid and the role of faith-based organizations such as the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, and ultimately the Dutch Reformed Church which had once supported the system but then made a dramatic flip-flop.

They have no desire to let that happen in North Korea.

To the point where pretty much every other person in the PDRK is a snitch -- even an Army officer was executed when a fellow soldier caught him preaching to his unit. Many others are in slave labour camps.

Yet we are so preoccupied with Pyongyang's nuclear program and the complete incompetency of the food aid system that we've failed to speak out for people's freedom. The West, however, must. One of the main keys to a stable Asia-Pacific region is a united and democratic Korea. We need to speak out and regularly, and insist nuclear and food "aid" must be tied to greater freedoms. And we need to nurture, even if it is at great risk, the underground church.

If we succeed in Korea, we can start a domino effect for good. Mainland China would obviously be the next to topple, followed by Vietnam, Laos and Burma. And maybe we really could have peace in our time. So this weekend, pray for the people of North Korea.

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