Sunday, February 25, 2018

Untold Story of North Korea at the Winter Olympics

By now, we’ve all seen the fawning headlines and stories of the media’s lovefest with Kim Yo Jong, the sister, close adviser and confidant to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. We haven't seen adoration like this from the media since the death of Fidel Castro. Here’s a small sampling:

NY Times: Kim Jong-un’s Sister Turns on the Charm, Taking Pence’s Spotlight

Washington Post: The “Ivanka Trump of North Korea” captivates people in the South

Associated Press: At Olympic Games, Kim Jong Un’s sister takes VIP seat

Reuters: North Korea heads for diplomacy gold medal at Olympics

Yahoo: All swagger and smiles, Kim Jung Un's mysterious sister gets her star turn at Winter Olympics

The winner of the “KJU Fan Club Best Propaganda Award” predictably went to CNN for a story entitled “Kim Jong Un's sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics”. The article began with

If “diplomatic dance” were an event at the Winter Olympics, Kim Jong Un's younger sister would be favored to win gold.

With a smile, a handshake and a warm message in South Korea's presidential guest book, Kim Yo Jong has struck a chord with the public just one day into the PyeongChang Games.

Seen by some as her brother’s answer to American first daughter Ivanka Trump, Kim, 30, is not only a powerful member of Kim Jong Un’s kitchen cabinet but also a foil to the perception of North Korea as antiquated and militaristic.

CNN thus implies that, KJU’s sister flashing a smile offsets all the images and other news coming out of N Korea. Evidently, all the military parades, missile tests, and the killings of vast numbers of their citizens were totally misinterpreted by those outside of the media. CNN gives us further enlightenment of how we’ve further misunderstood N Korea in a separate article.

Babilina Hwang, a visiting professor at Georgetown, told CNN that “Kim Yo Jong is the perfect counterpart to [Ivanka Trump]. And it also is a signal that North Korea is not this crazy, weird former Cold War state -- but it too has young women that are capable and are the future leadership.”

So according to CNN, if you’re a young woman looking for a great career with advancement opportunities, send your resume to Kim Jong Un today! To CNN’s credit, the writer did include some information that distinguished the article from that of a a press release written by the N Korean public affairs office.

But as North Korea's brutal dictator, Kim's brother has ruled with an iron fist since coming to power, operating Nazi-style prison camps, repressing political opposition and even executing senior officers and his own family members in an effort to consolidate power.

CNN also included the fact that Kim Yo Jong is a close aide to her brother, but you have to look for it deep into the article. The writer also mentioned the 2-3 million N Koreans that have starved over the past couple of decades, but blamed this on famine caused by withdrawal of food subsidies from China and Russia, collective farming [state-run and controlled], flooding and droughts. There was no mention of the millions and millions of dollars of foreign aid for food that was routinely diverted to the military, including nuclear facilities, but this would have contradicted CNN’s portrayal of N Korea as a modern peace-loving progressive society.

The North Korea that the Media Ignores:

We’re all familiar with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s constant threats of nuclear war, but there are many other stories that get ignored by the media. We often see videos of enthusiastic cheering by his military leaders and others around him, but no mention that KJU imprisons and tortures anyone who he even suspects of hinting at disloyalty to his regime. His government has systematically destroyed churches and attempted to eradicate any signs of Christianity except for a few “token” churches left open to promote his claims of religious freedom. Any true Church leaders and Christians are routinely rounded up and sent to prison camps.

Even associating with a Christian can result in being detained for questioning. In shades of Nazi Germany, children are targeted early for government propaganda and brain washing (the American left has also very successfully adopted this strategy). During school days, a few children are assigned the “honor” of keeping watch while the other students are studying or playing at recess. What do they watch for? They are told to watch for incoming bombing raids by American war planes. This is one of the reasons for lack of resistance to the N Korean nuclear program. People are taught from childhood that attacks by the West are imminent. Children are also taught to spy on their parents and neighbors, so Christians must pray with their eyes open and worship secretly, even in the “privacy” of their own homes.

“Offenders” are typically sent to prison camps for the smallest of infractions. There are two types of prison camps in N Korea. Both are basically concentration camps in which prisoners are used as harsh slave labor for government-owned factories, and are also subject to torture and public executions. The Kyohwaso is a re-education type camp for those accused of “lesser” offences. Theoretically, prisoners are eligible for release after completing their sentence and deemed to be “rehabilitated”, but many don’t survive the harsh conditions. The Kwanliso camps are for more “serious” crimes such as criticizing the government or attempting to flee the country. Prisoners in these camps are considered beyond redemption, so are basically under a life sentence in order to “protect” society.

Some Christians might be “fortunate” to be sent to a Kyohwaso camp, but many are sent to one of the Kwanliso camps since Christianity is considered as dangerous as narcotics in N Korea. Christians are also seen as political prisoners, since Christianity is viewed by the NK government as a means by which the West attempts to “invade” and infiltrate the country with Western and capitalist ideas. Nearly 40 percent of prisoners die from the beatings and/or starvation. Many others manage to barely survive by eating some of the rats that infest the camp. It is estimated that about 30% (30,000) of 100,000 N Korean Christians currently are imprisoned in one of the Kwanliso camps.

The Seed of the Gospel from a Highly Unlikely Source

Yet, even in the darkness is a glimmer of light, as reported in The Voice of the Martyrs February 2018 Newsmagazine. Here, we find the story of “Kyung-ja” (names changed for protection), a mid-fifties North Korean woman detained because her daughter had defected to South Korea. As Kyung-ja was being beaten with a club, she drifted in and out of consciousness and heard the guard shouting out unfamiliar words like “God”, “Jesus” and “Bible”.

After two months of beatings, it was determined that Kyung-ja had no ties to Christianity so we was sent to a Kyohwaso camp for “re-education”. Her curiosity had been peaked however, so one day she asked a fellow prisoner, “What is God, and what is a Bible?” The prisoner whispered that “There is such a thing, but you must not ask [for your own safety]”.

After six months, during which she witnessed many atrocities and deaths of fellow prisoners, Kyung-ja was released. Eventually, her daughter was able to raise enough money and obtain the aid of a pastor to help Kyung-Ja defect to S Korea. Only then, was she able to obtain some answers to her questions about Christianity.

Today, Kyung-ja never misses a worship service or an opportunity to share her testimony with others. She also works with a VOM-sponsored ministry that reaches out to N Korean Christians and defectors. The irony is not lost on her that, if she had never been arrested, she would have never heard of Christianity, and that the seeds of the Gospel were planted by a N Korean guard attempting to eradicate Christianity.

Kyung-ja story is amazing, but not as uncommon as we might think. Similarly, we continually see large numbers of Muslims turning to Christianity due to the brutal tactics of groups like ISIS, Boko Harem (W Africa), Al Shabaab (E Africa), Al Qaeda, FARC (Colombia), and others. I heard of one case about 18 months ago, where Muslim neighbors hid Christians in their homes after their village church had been attacked and burned by Islamic terrorists. Just as in the first few centuries in which the blood of the martyrs was the seed, we now see unequaled numbers of Muslims coming to Christ.

Let’s continue to pray for Christians in restricted and hostile nations.