North Korea (MNN) — North Korea shows up in the headlines for a variety of reasons. Most recently, it’s been the country’s nuclear arms activity, and the murder of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam. But if we want to really characterize this country in a phrase, it’s safe to say that North Korea is tangled in lies and deception.
(Photo courtesy of Open Doors)
Patrick Klein of Vision Beyond Borders says he’s seen this deception first hand.
On one visit to the country, Klein asked his tour guide several basic questions about Kim Jon Un and his family. The tour guide responded by saying that information had not been released by the government. The people were kept from knowing even the most basic biographical information about their leader.
“There’s this real mystery about it that they can’t have information about his personal life, they can’t know anything about his marital status. We do know he’s been very brutal, even killing his uncle in North Korea for working too closely with the Chinese,” Klein says.
And yet, once outside the country, anyone can do a quick Google search to learn more about the family.
Even though most people are aware of the fact that heavy propaganda is used within the country, the extent is shocking. Klein says in schools, much of the day is spent learning about the Kim family — Kim Il Sung, Kim Jon Il, and Kim Jong Un.
NPR says that less than one percent of the North Korean population has access to the internet. Foreign media and books are illegal, and the television programs are purely propaganda.
While basic facts are omitted, civilians are encouraged if not coerced to believe that the Kim family is divine.
Klein says, “They have these huge statues of the leaders, 40-50 feet high in Pyongyang that are lit up all night long. Murals of the leaders [are] lit up all night long. Yet the streets of Pyongyang are dark at night because there’s no street lights.”
At a very young age, everyone in North Korea is required to wear a pin of the Great Leader or risk punishment.
“It’s just this absolute worship of these dead men. And it’s like, if you have any devotion to Jesus Christ or believe in God, it’s like that’s an offense to them. They want absolute, total worship.”
While Christianity isn’t technically illegal, any perceived sharing of faith is illegal.
North Korean believers face harsh penalties if they are caught conducting any form of religious activities.(Image, caption courtesy Christian Aid)
If you follow news from North Korea, then you probably read about North Korea’s most recent and highest ranking defector for decades —Thae Yong Ho. According to NPR, Thae believes increasing information with decreasing censorship will help bring down Kim Jon Un’s power. In other words, the truth will bring freedom to the country.
But what about spiritual freedom? Klein says the spiritual bondage in North Korea is readily apparent.
While on his first trip to North Korea, he could feel the spiritual oppression of the work of the enemy. Klein says he’s never experienced such an attack of evil thoughts against him. Many times, he just had to quote Scripture out loud and in his head.
The tour guide showed them a number of shrines to the Kim family. Klein says there was a growing feeling of oppression after each visit. Even their tour guide seemed to sink lower and lower into her bus seat.
“I think there’s so much oppression. And I thought, as a Christian, you know, I’m having to fight it. Just think what those people have to live under every day.”
What can we do?
Underneath the lies, oppression, and fear, something is happening. People want to know truth.
Klein says, “From what I understand is back in the 50s, there was a revival in North Korea and every family had at least one Christian in it. And so I think we need to be praying for God to send a revival again, to stir up even those roots.”
You may be surprised to learn that even the Kim family has Christian ancestors. Aside from them, there are many seeds for the Gospel in this country, and many faithful believers as well.
Klein says, “I think there’s a hunger inside. I think it’s all shrouded in all this mystery and all this worship of these dead men. But I think deep down inside, the people are searching, and they’re wondering what’s really going on, what’s really the truth.”
He says we must continue to pray for these people and recognize that God loves them. Klein says he even prays for Kim Jong Un to have a heart change, or to be replaced by a good leader who will allow religious freedom.
“I see precious people who are just very, very deceived, and only the Holy Spirit can break through those lies.”
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