This news was reported on 5 March 2014 in a smattering of media outlets. Mark Shapland, in Britain’s Daily Mail, noted that “Thirty-three North Koreans face execution after being charged with attempting to overthrow the repressive regime of Kim Jong-un.
“The Koreans have landed themselves in hot water after it emerged they had worked with South Korean Baptist missionary Kim Jung-wook and received money to set up 500 underground churches. It is understood they will be put to death in a cell at the State Security Department.”
Apparently Kim Jong-un feels threatened by these Christians, and either out of paranoia or hatred of their faith he is claiming that they tried to overthrow the government. In many respects, this despot resembles Herod the Great in his last days: he was so paranoid that he began killing friends, relatives, even infants in Bethlehem because of one there who was born as king (unlike Herod). Kim has already executed his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, along with Jang’s relatives, and in the last few days rumors began to spread that Kim had eliminated his number 2 man, Choe Ryong Hae. The rumors were proved false, but the very fact that they could spin up so quickly suggests that it was no stretch to imagine such a deed as within Kim’ character. The difference between Kim and Herod is that Kim Jong-un is young: these cruel, irrational decrees of his regime will only increase for many years to come.
Speculations abound that the North Korean government may have used torture to wrench out a confession from Kim Jung-wook about his underground activities. The missionary confessed to working with intelligence agencies and entering the country to overthrow the government, but other sources deny Kim’s testimony, arguing that he was kidnapped and taken into North Korea.
Sadly, very few news media have reported on this story at all. Besides the Daily Mail, the Washington Times (not to be confused with the Washington Post), Christian Post, Breitbart, The Examiner, and an assortment of less-known outlets have brief reports. I could not find the story at all in any of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers. This means that the news is not getting out. And it may be evidence that America is increasingly becoming a fully postmodern, post-Christian country (not that we were ever a Christian nation before, but at least the animosity against Christians in the past pales to what’s happening now). With more than half of all Americans claiming to be Christians (42% claiming to be evangelical), one would think that this story might be significant for this rather large segment of America.
I am not sure what the best steps are for believers who want to advocate for these 33 Christians. But I would think that in the least we could write to our local news agencies and ask them to cover the story. Some may even wish to write to their representatives in Washington. And, of course, we can pray. Churches may wish to list this situation in their prayer announcements, and small groups might wish to dedicate themselves to praying for these 33 believers on a regular basis. What else can we do? Now it’s your turn…