Displaying items by tag: North Korea
Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, once called ‘Jerusalem of the East,’ can no longer claim that title as the Juche doctrine is now its religion, with the Kims as its deities. Christian church information is limited. It survives as an underground church where meetings are held in secret. If members are caught, they will go to prison or a labour camp. Intense media control means that few North Koreans have heard the name of Jesus. The government dictates people’s lifestyle through generic provisions and limiting personal differences. Much of North Korea is underdeveloped., and natural disasters and military spending have strapped the economy. In the past fifteen years, two million people have died due to food shortages. The country relies on foreign aid to feed its people. North Korea is accused of torture, slavery, public executions, forced abortions, infanticides, as well as detaining possibly as many as 200,000 political prisoners.
In recent years, the United States and South Korea have cancelled some of their regular drills and reduced others to computer simulations, to create space for diplomacy and allay Covid-19 concerns. But after North Korea dismissed South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol's offer to exchange denuclearisation steps and economic benefits, the USA and South Korea began their biggest combined military training in years on 22 August, heightening their defence posture against the growing North Korean nuclear threat. The Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises, which will continue until 1 September, include aircraft, warships, tanks, and potentially tens of thousands of troops. They could draw anger from Pyongyang, which has pushed its weapons testing activity to a record pace this year while repeatedly threatening conflicts with Seoul and Washington amid a prolonged stalemate in diplomacy. Some say North Korea sees the exercises as rehearsals for an invasion.
Russian military expert Igor Korotchenko said on state TV: ‘There are 100,000 North Korean volunteers prepared to come and take part in the war in Ukraine. North Korean builders are ready to work alongside ours to repair war damage. If North Korean volunteers with their artillery systems, wealth of experience with counter-battery warfare, and large calibre multi-launch rocket systems, want to participate in the conflict, well, let’s give the green light to their volunteer impulse.’ A South Korean report stated that the North is already preparing to dispatch its workers to the pro-Russian Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Calling the North Korean troops ‘resilient, undemanding and motivated’, a Russian journalist said that the Kremlin ‘should not be shy in accepting the hand extended to us by Kim Jong-un’.
On 25 May North Korea test-fired at least two ballistic missiles, just a day after Joe Biden left the region. One flew about 300 km, the other 750 km: they were the latest in a flurry of such launches in 2022. Japan’s defence minister said they were ‘unacceptable’, and South Korea called them ‘a grave provocation’.' Mr Biden visited both those countries, and agreed with the South Korean president to hold bigger military drills and deploy more US strategic assets if necessary, to deter North Korea’s intensifying weapons test.' He said that the USA was ‘prepared for anything North Korea does’.
Last week we prayed for North Korea after Covid reached it. The World Council of Churches (WCC) has now warned of a major humanitarian crisis. There are rising Covid cases (currently 1.2 million) and 50+ deaths. 5% of the population is being monitored. The population is unvaccinated, and without adequate ventilators or other essential supplies the risk of an unprecedented death toll is very high. This outbreak greatly compounds the pre-existing humanitarian situation, particularly related to food insecurity. The WCC is calling for urgent humanitarian responses by the international community which are equal to the gravity of the crisis. In particular, newly developed antivirals such as Paxlovid must be provided as a matter of urgency, as well as diagnostics, ventilators, PPE, vaccines, and other medical needs, as well as essential food supplies. WCC wants centralised coordinated approaches through the UN, and for current sanctions to be lifted as a matter of fundamental ethical and humanitarian responsibility.
In late April, North Korea confirmed its first Covid cases and suspended overland trade with China (which had been resumed in January) after a surge of Chinese cases. The reclusive nation has repeatedly shunned international offers of vaccines, and has been forced into two years of strict isolation to stop the pandemic from crippling the already weak healthcare system. But blocking commerce with China, their largest trade partner, has upset an economy damaged by decades of mismanagement and punishing international sanctions. A serious lack of rainfall in the second worst drought since records began is disrupting farming and food supplies. Despite alarm over Omicron spreading, Kim Jong-Un has ordered scheduled construction, agricultural development and other state projects to continue, decreeing that ‘single-minded public unity is the most powerful guarantee that can win in this anti-pandemic fight.’
A Bible using the idioms of North Korea in a side-by-side display with the form of Korean spoken in the south is ministering to the hearts of defectors and may be a tool God uses for the eventual reunification between north and south. It has been developed by Cornerstone Ministries, which spent eight years on the New Testament and 15 years on the entire Bible. The project began with a simple request: ‘North Korean believers who received and read the Korean Bible requested that we publish the Bible in Korean using idioms and phraseology they could easily understand.’ Cornerstone delivered the Bibles to 3,500 defectors in the South during the Christmas season. After one defector received a Bible and read it slowly he said, ‘The text was very nice and familiar. There are some parts of the revised Bible that we defectors had difficulty understanding. However, for me as a North Korean reading this translation the words “Yes” came out of my mouth.’
North Korea’s dictatorship says Covid-19 is not a problem, but the people secretly call it the ‘ghost disease.’ North Korea has reported no Covid cases and rejected millions of vaccines. However, reports on the ground tell a different story. Covid has been deadly, especially to the many North Koreans who are malnourished. Meanwhile Kim Jong-Un promises to expand his nuclear arsenal. Behind these issues are 25 million souls living and dying without the hope of Jesus. For a North Korean to have a chance to hear about that hope, it takes an act of God, and God is moving. North Koreans are being drawn to Jesus in daring and ingenious ways - through the underground Church, Christian radio broadcasts, and even covert balloon drops carrying Scripture. No nation is too closed for God to move. Ask God to deliver the people from the regime's indoctrination and lies and for truth to reign throughout the nation.
North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into waters off its eastern coast on 15 September. South Korea and US intelligence are analysing details about the launches. The missiles landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, in the waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula. Prime minister Yoshihide Suga called the firings absolutely outrageous, threatening the peace and safety of Japan and the region. He said, ‘Our government is determined to step up our vigilance and surveillance to be prepared for any contingencies.’ The firings came just two days after North Korea tested a newly developed missile capable of hitting targets 930 miles away. North Korea has ignored Washington’s offers to resume negotiations to abandon its nuclear programme.
Christians are increasingly being persecuted violently: by brutal IS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Hindu extremists in India. Release International issued a report on persecution trends in 2021. It is a wake-up call to take our prayers for our persecuted family to new levels. Nigerian attacks are driven by Islamist ideologies to destroy ‘the infidels’. 300 Christians remain detained without trial inside Eritrea. The Chinese government is increasing its ‘clean-cup’ of anything that does not advance the communist agenda. North Korea’s policy against Christians is the longest, harshest persecution in recorded history. Iranians constantly fear they are under surveillance when they meet secretly. The pressure has led to an exodus from Iran that will continue in 2021. Egyptian Christian converts from a Muslim background will continue to pay a high price for their faith and will be expelled from their families, divorced, and lose their employment.