[imText1]For the ten years from 1995 to 2004, churches in South Korea sent a total of 270 billion South Korean won in aid to North Korea’s Chosun Christians Federation to fund projects including the building of an orphanage.
This money represented fully 77% of all private donations sent to North Korea in the same period. However, the truth is that nobody knows how the money has been spent, or by whom.
Such religiously motivated support for the Chosun Christians Federation results in not only problems for other missionary work, but also prolongs the suffering of the people, according to Yoo Suk Ryul, the director of Cornerstone Church, an active missionary group working along the North Korean-Chinese border. He has just released a new book, ‘The Collapse of the Kim Jong Il Regime and North Korean Missionary Work.’
In it, Yoo writes, “The Chosun Federation first came to our attention as an association affiliated to the United Front Department of the Chosun Workers’ Party so, to that extent, funds from missionary organizations are obviously propping up the Kim Jong Il regime.”
“It is not possible to deny that Korean churches’ aid to North Korea will reap any rewards,” Yoo concedes, but points out, “The problem is expecting anything from the Chosun Christians Federation or the North Korean government.”
In the book, citing a report by UK-based Christian human rights organization, Release International, Yoo adds, “In North Korea, the failure of the currency reform and chronic food shortages have led to stricter controls and the persecution of Christians in large numbers.”
In this respect, Yoo agrees that the North Korean system needs to go through wholesale change before the gospel can begin to spread. Top-down change would be impossible. He says the people must take on a new awareness and combine their strength to make sweeping changes from the bottom-up.
“The rebuilding of the church should not be done through an organization affiliated to the Kim Jong Il regime or the Chosun Workers’ Party,” Yoo therefore asserts. Rather, he believes assistance should be rendered to underground churches, to begin the spread of the gospel from the bottom up.
In addition, “To date, Chinese-Koreans and our defector brethren have received training in China, and through this indirect method have entered North Korea to establish underground churches.” However, “North Korea’s situation both at home and abroad is change rapidly now, so missionaries need to turn to a strategy that is more direct.”
Additionally, he goes on, “The Bible, radio, TV and DVDs should continue to be sent by balloon, along with all other methods of advancing the spread of the gospel,” and explained, “This is a strategy to force Pyongyang’s fall through the gospel.”
Yoo has invested much time and effort into persuading Korean churches to end their existing missionary work in North Korea, and follow a new path. “Missionary work in North Korea is not something that can be accomplished with a strategy of passion alone,” he writes, “This missionary strategy does not grasp the essence of the North Korean system; it is a house of cards.”