Open Doors is calling for prayer after North Korea has reportedly ordered the death of as many as 33 people with alleged connections to South Korean missionary Kim Jung-wook. They are being charged with attempting to overthrow the regime by receiving money to set up 500 underground churches, a source shared with the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.
Though it is unknown whether or not all of the accused persons are converted Christians, their reported death sentence demonstrates that the North Korean regime continues to rule with enormous brutality. Kim Jong-Un has issued orders to remove all “unclean elements” from his country. Last year, he had his uncle and mentor Jang Song-Thaek executed. Jang’s children, brothers and grandchildren were also murdered shortly after his death. Last week, a rumor began circulating that Jang’s successor, Vice Marshall Choi Ryong Hae, has already been purged, as well. He has been conspicuously absent from public life for some time now.
Baptist missionary Kim was arrested in North Korea last October for allegedly establishing underground churches, though other sources claim that North Korean secret agents actually kidnapped him in the Chinese border city of Dandong. In a staged press conference on Feb. 27, Kim reportedly “admitted” to helping the South Korean Secret Service through his activities, and said his goal was the collapse of the regime. It was hoped that Kim would be released after this public statement.
During the same press conference, North Korean authorities aired interviews with five North Koreans who claimed to have met the missionary and received money from him. They said Kim Jung-wook told them that when the regime collapses, a church must be built in Pyongyang on the spot where the statues of nation founder Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il stand.
This latest news comes only a day after Australian missionary John Short arrived in Beijing following his release by North Korean officials. Short was arrested last month for leaving Christian Korean pamphlets behind in a Buddhist temple. North Korea’s state news agency, KCNA, said Short had apologized and admitted to violating North Korean laws. According to KCNA, North Korea expelled him partly in consideration of his old age.
Another missionary, Korean American Kenneth Bae, is still being held in a North Korean prison. Bae was arrested on Nov. 12, 2012 while leading a tourist group in North Korea. The North Korean prosecutors quickly charged him with planning an anti-North Korean religious coup, setting up bases in China for the purpose of toppling the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, encouraging North Korean citizens to overthrow the government and conducting a malicious smear campaign. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Despite diplomatic pressure, North Korea refuses to release Bae.
Father, we pray todayfor the people who have been sentenced to death, asking for You to give them the strength to endure, and the ability to praise Your name in the midst of their trials. We also pray for Kim Jung-wook and Kenneth Bae, the two foreign missionaries who are being held against their will. Father, fill them with Your Spirit so that those around them may also come to know you as Lord and Savior. And Father we pray for the leaders of North Korea, in particular for Kim Jong-Un- soften his heart so that he too will cometo know Jesus as his Savior. Lastly Father, for the rest of the North Korean population, who are afraid of the wide-scale purges in North Korea, Father fill them with Your peace. Praying in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Amen