[imText1]The U.S. State Department, which annually investigates religious freedom of each country, pointed out through the “2006 Report on Religion,” that, “Normally, communist countries tend to gradually ease religious persecution, but North Korea is an exceptional country, which tends to strictly oppress religious actions.”
Reports regarding North Korea’s religious oppression are being annually released, but South Korean Christian organizations are raising the temperature of exchange with the North Korean Christian Federation. Even if testimony continues regarding the reality of the Bongsu Church, the tendency to publicize the results of North Korean missions through joint services is even increasing.
Daily NK met with Youth Pastor Kang Chul Ho, who is a defector, and established the “Peace Reunification Church” in Yangchungu, Seoul four years ago. We asked him, who emphasized the “importance of the role of defectors in North Korean missions” about the religious policy that the North Korean government has taken.
Youth pastor Kang roared towards Kang Young Sup, the Chair of the Federation who actively fellowships with South Korean Christian organizations. “If he is a real Christian, he has to become an enemy of Kim Jong Il and has to say right things.”
Youth pastor Kang revealed that, “Kang Young Sup (the son of Kang Ryang Wook, the sixth cousin of Kang Dong Wook, Kim Il Sung’s maternal grandfather) is a family member of Kim Jong Il” and that he is a hypocritical person who performs duties to preserve the Kim Il Sung-Kim Jung Il regime.
He pointed out, “If he (Kang Young Sup) is a genuine believer, he will request that Kim Jong Il will be transformed wherever he goes. However, all he says when he meets South Korean believers is, “we should be one through love. Let’s hold hands and make an effort for the fatherland.”
He said, without hesitation regarding the “Bongsu Church,” which South Korean religious leaders visit at least once while they are visiting North Korea, “The Bongsu Church is totally a fake.”
He explained, “We cannot look at the North Korean Bongsu Church from the same perspective we view the South Korea church.” “The 300 some believers who attend the Bongsu Church are all requisite members who have received a special education.”
He said, regarding the standard for picking out fake believers, “They had to have graduated from Kim Il Sung University and should be a person who is acknowledged in the Workers’ Party or has a family member who is volunteering for a party organization.”
[imText2]Further, he stressed, “Only people who have become equipped as Kim Il Sung’s loyal follower can become “followers.” While they are playing the role of a fake believer, they receive incomes as we receive incomes at work. To them, this is a place of employment or a profession.”
Youth pastor Kang said regarding the reason why no churches exist outside of Pyongyang is that, “All of North Korea’s diplomatic actions occur in Pyongyang. Because exchanges with foreigners or South Korean religious people all take place in Pyongyang, there is no reason why churches should exist in other regions.”
Simultaneously, he said, “The Bongsu Church and the Chilgol Church are in Pyongyang, but citizens who live in Pyongyang do not even know about the existence of the Bongsu Church in Pyongyang. Ask the defectors. They probably do not even know that there is a church in North Korea.”
The North Korean government said regarding the “family service place” which it insists as a religious form unique to North Korea, said, “We (South Korean) pastors are most deceived by seeing North Korea’s family service places. The pastors describe them as underground churches, but these are not underground churches, but ones emulated from our family worship services to deceive South Korean believers.”
Regarding the reason for Kim Jong Il regime’s religious oppression, the following analysis was provided, “The Kim Jong Il regime is a one-person despot state. The North Korean system can only be preserved through idolizing Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. However, when believers who start worshipping God surface through the emergence of Christianity, North Korea’s societal structure becomes shaken.”
Pastor Kang vociferated regarding the South Korean religious organization’s ties with the North Korean Christian Federation, “If they knew that the Federation is not real, they will not spoonfeed them the way they do now.” He said, “We have to get rid of the thought that we have to help the North Korean Christian Federation to produce tangible results from North Korean missions.”
Also, he sighed, “When defectors say North Korea should not be blindly helped, there are those who criticize, saying, “How can you say such a thing?” “If the support of South Koreans goes to the civilians, why should we protest?”
He also deplored, “If we helped them this much, North Korea should show some sign of improvement, but moreover, they complicate the situation by threatening us and causing a war by making nuclear weapons.” “Where did these things come from? They all came from the things with which we helped them.”
On one hand, he lamented regarding the role the religious persons should play regarding North Korea’s human rights and democratization, “Believers should raise their voice regarding the reality of North Korea’s human rights.” “Many people are currently being oppressed in North Korea, not because they committed a crime, but because they were not loyal to Kim Jong Il.”
He also commented, “If the defectors knew “human rights” in North Korea, they will not have lived the way they did. In North Korea, I did not even have a sense of human rights in North Korea. In the Japanese colonial era, we survived by eating at least, but currently, North Korea is worse off than the Japanese colonial period.”