Escaping North Korea

image China/North Korea border on the Dandong River in China

I frequently have this experience: something new comes across my path that "yanks my chain", changes my life direction - and it keeps comin'. Over the past few weeks, this something continued to interrupt my thoughts  Its like an "okay God, I get it, this is important" moment.  As of early January, this "something" had a name: North Korea. 

Terms you need to know before you read:
  • DMZ: Demilitarized zone  images
  • Kim Jong-Il: supreme dictator of North Korea - a.k.a, "Our Dear Leader"
How it began: Of course, I've heard of North Korea before...nuclear weapons, information blackout, etc...etc... but I never caught the human interest side of the story.  (Sort of interesting how we tend to forget about our fellow human beings) Well that changed when M's monthly subscription to Voice of the Martyrs included an article about continuing persecution in the country (the one I included is an older piece).

The people that live there face virtual poverty, freedom-less mind-control, and worship their dictator as we worship our dear Christ Jesus - an entire room packed with families singing praises to their "Dear Leader".  Not only did it sound crazy, I began to cry - "stop, please stop", I kept thinking.

A few days later, I'm perusing the shockingly slim netflix online movie selection (haven't heard of most of 'em) and I arrive at a collection of National Geographic documentaries.  Here I found footage of modern North Korea, but "modern" is the last word I'd use to describe it.  Apparently an entire generation of children are permanently stunted from cell-killing malnutrition and starvation, and a famine that lasted the majority of the 1990s left 23 million people dead - but no one knows for sure since no one knows much about what goes on in the "Hermit Kingdom". And this isn't new - generations of Koreans have lived in darkness - try 60 + years.

 Then M shared with me another article and this time there were faces & stories of those who escaped.  Missionaries and mercenaries guide defectors across the Chinese border but many never make it to the safe slopes of South Korea.  Some are forced into the sex-trade by predators and many are repatriated to North Korea by the Chinese government - even if they do make it out, family they left behind are dragged to work prisons akin to Nazi concentration camps and the Soviet Gulag.  With all my heart I'm not trying to be dramatic - as far as I've researched, this is reality for North Koreans.

Let's be thoughtful though: I get it.  I don't know much, but I believe I'm beginning to understand why this happened.  Korea has been a constant target of invasion and devastation - and in 1948 it was time they had a piece of their own.  Enter: communist dictatorship

What hits me most is that this is going on in our world.  Now.  This isn't World War II or the Cold War.  Its now.  Right now there are brothers and sisters dying - physically and spiritually, and I would be remiss if I didn't say that its pretty clear that the Enemy is trying to stamp out any notion of Christ from the hearts of the Korean people.  And by "stamp out" I mean murder, maim, starve, and brain-wash the Light and Life out of a people.
image here

Prayer means a lot.  God is who He says He is - which is a God of power and reconciliation.  Its so easy not only to forget this, but to also forget about people who suffer in these times.  They need us to remember them, and we must.  We cannot fall asleep - I know my eyes grow droopy and my heart is slowly seduced (very appropriate word I'm beginning to learn) into slumber.

Meditate on these words from Psalm 34:
1 I will extol the LORD at all times;
   his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the LORD;
   let the afflicted hear and rejoice
3 Glorify the LORD with me;
   let us exalt his name together.
 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
   he delivered me from all my fears.

5 Those who look to him are radiant;
   their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
   he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
   and he delivers them.
 8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
   blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

9 Fear the LORD, you his holy people,
   for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
   but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

I once sang this psalm in a song, but as I grow, the words take on real-to-life meaning.  Please, take the time to think outside your life and your own country, and remember the loved ones in North Korea.

Thank you M for being so much apart of this and for praying with me