Kang Cheol Hwan says he was just nine-years-old when
North Korean authorities arrested him along with other members
of his family because of his grandfather’s alleged political
He says he spent the next 10 years in a prison camp where
he witnessed some children being kicked and worked to death,
others being publicly executed and yet others dying of malnourishment.
“In order to survive, I ate rats, cockroaches and snakes,”
he says. “Children simply disappeared from the camp.
I can’t understand how it’s still there and it’s
a great shame on all mankind that these camps are still tolerated.”
TWO FACES OF NORTH KOREA: Top - One of the many statue's
of Kim Il Sung, president of the Democratic People's
Republic of North Korea from 1972 until his death
in 1994, in North Korea where he is officially referred
to as "Great Leader"; and bottom - an image
from one of North Korea's prison camps. IMAGES: Courtesy
of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
know of no country in which state repression of Christianity
is so thorough and violent,” says Mervyn Thomas,
chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
Cheol Hwan’s story is one of numerous accounts human
rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide have recorded
coming out of North Korea.
“We know of no country in which state repression of
Christianity is so thorough and violent,” says Mervyn
Thomas, chief executive of CSW, in a statement issued earlier
In an initiative launched by the organisation, Christians
from all around the world have this week joined together in
praying North Korea, a nation of almost 23 million people
which some say is the most closed in the world.
CSW say that there is no freedom to preach the Gospel in North
Korea and all those who live inside its boundaries are forced
to revere the nation’s leaders in what the organisation
says is a “form of idolatry that is reminiscent of that
imposed by Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel’s time”.
“For decades the desperate need of the North Korean
people has remained hidden and forgotten due to the isolation
and severe repression against those who might speak out,”
“However, now there is a chink in the wall and we are
able to see something of the horrors that are taking place
in the country, especially against Christians, and the wholesale
repression of freedom to hear the Gospel.
“We therefore strongly urge the church to fervently
pray until we see the forced imposition of idolatry and the
violent suppression of faith fall and the walls of darkness
and repression crumble. Now is a pivotal time to pray and
we urge all Christians to take to heart the injunction in
Hebrews 13:3 to ‘remember those in prison as if you
were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated
as if you yourselves were suffering’.
CSW say North Korea is one of the “most desperately
needy and spiritually oppressed countries” and that
as a result of harsh resistance to the Gospel, North Koreans
generally have not heard of Jesus, have never seen a church
or a Bible or met a Christian.
The organisation says people found to be Christians are usually
imprisoned in camps and that there are a number of credible
reports of Christians being executed.
FOR NORTH KOREA:
Pray that the state-enforced idolatry of North Korea's
leaders will be broken;
That the leaders, especially Kim Jong Il, will be
convicted and converted;
For God to uphold Christians detained for their faith
and facing inhumane treatment and abuse including
torture, interrogation and even execution;
For secret Christians to be shielded from their persecutors;
For the provision of food for those facing starvation;
• For those hiding in border areas or trying
to flee - in particular for North Korean women who
can face appalling sexual, physical and emotional
abuse in China.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
prayer resources and testimonies, visit www.csw.org.uk/Countries/NorthKorea/index.htm
CSW say information is limited due to North Korea’s
isolation, conditions in the camps are thought to be so bad
that very few who are imprisoned come out alive with detainees
subject to torture and inhumane living and working conditions.
Severe food shortages are also affecting those outside the
camps with two million people already estimated to have died
CSW have provided a list of prayer requests for people to
pray about this week covering issues including the enforced
idolatry of the nation’s leaders - particularly Kim
Jong Il - as well as for the protection of those who follow
Christ and their families, for those who are suffering as
a result of famine and for those who become refugees and fled
the nation into China or who are in hiding.
The prayer initiative came as North Korea reportedly expressed
their agreement to give up its nuclear weapons program in
return for aid, security guarantees and diplomatic recognition
under a landmark deal with South Korea, China, Japan, Russia
and the United States announced earlier this week.
Doubt has since been cast on the deal however when North Korea
said it required civilian nuclear reactors to be delivered
before it would dismantle it’s nuclear weapons.