“Bongsu Church in Pyongyang a Fraud, Only for False Propagation of Freedom of Religion”

[imText1]Rev. Suh Kyung Suk (human rights commissioner, the Christian Council of Korea), who has been a forefront leader in sending humanitarian aid to North Korea and religious exchanges with the North voiced out condemning North Korea’s Bongsu church located in Pyongyang for being a fraud act and that South Korean Christians must stop at once the pitiful effort to meet fake Christians in North Korea.

Rev. Suh posted a statement on his personal website on July 28 with the title, “Denouncement of Bongsu Church in Pyongyang” in which he wrote, “I am determined to never visit North Korea again, and denounce Bongsu Church, which I visited six times. Let’s abandon the hope that (the government of) North Korea will one day give its people freedom of religion if we continue our good relations with them.”

Rev. Suh’s denunciation is expected to cause a great amount of disputes among the religious sector and South-North civilian cooperative work for it argues for sever of relationship with Bongsu Church in Pyongyang, which had a symbolic meaning of the South Korean protestant religious relationship with the North.

In the statement, Rev. Suh testified that after he visited Bongsu church for the first time in 1998 and after visiting it many times afterwards and attending the services, he knew that the pastors and believers there were bogus but because he hoped for the spread of Christianity even in such a form, he led exchange and aid to North Korea.

However, Rev. Suh stated that he now knows that the truth about the fake believers of Bongsu church and the benefits they enjoy through defectors’ testimonies and he urged (the readers) to not be deceived any longer.

He also introduced a defector’s testimony that said, “Once one person attended the service and started to pray in tears (for real) so he was expelled to a remote place. The churches were built only to bring in foreign currency from foreign visitors including South Koreans and to propagate that they too have freedom of religion in North Korea.”

Rev. Suh asked, “After the establishment of Bongsu church in 1988 until now, if we were deceived for 17 years, how pitiful fools are we?” and further emphasized, “when the South Korean church leaders demand “Christians” in North Korea for the verification of the life of Rev. Kim Dong Sik, who is proved to be abducted to North Korea and once this problem is solved, only then does the meeting between the South-North Christians gain a real meaning.”

He then added, “We must also stop handing over dollars to the Commissioner Kang Young Seop (Chosun Christian Alliance). Instead we should pray for the Christians in North Korea who were sent to the gulags.”

Rev. Suh said he might have to resign his position of co-director of Korean Sharing Movement but because he believes humanitarian aid and the issue of human rights must be dealt in parallel, he would like to remain in the position.

On the hand, Nah Hek Jip, Peaceful Unification commissioner of the Christian Council of Korea said, “It is important that the cross is put up on the wall and people sing the hymnals. It is important to focus our effort to build the Christian force and increase the number of believers in North Korea.”

His personal statement “Denouncement of Bongsu Church in Pyongyang” is available in Korean at his homepage, www.suhkyungsuk.pe.kr

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