Did atheist N. Korea's leaders really say they'll "pray" for Kim Jong-il?

Why have his successors called for three minutes of prayer at the end of his official mourning period?

Continued from page 5

“Juche is the only religion North Korean people can have.”

“We learned that there were two lives: one is the physical life and the other is the political life. We were taught that political life was forever along with the leaders and the Party. Therefore, I believed that my political life was more important than my physical life.”

“According to party covenant, Article 1, section 1, all North Koreans are required to worship Kim Il Sung with all our heart and might, even after his death. We have to venerate the pictures and status of Kim Il Sung.”

“We must hang Kim Il Sung’s pictures. The pictures indicate that Kim Il Sung is god, as we hang the pictures for the purpose of reminding ourselves that we depend on him.”

Other escapees from North Korea told Hawke:

“Hanging portraits of Kim’s family is compulsory for every household.

The portraits must be hung on the best wall of every home, and nothing else can be hung under the portraits. Families with high loyalty to the Party bow down under the portraits even when nobody is watching.”

“Religious freedom is not allowed in North Korea because it will ruin the deification of Kim Il Sung.”

“Having faith in God is an act of espionage. Only Kim Il Sung is a god in North Korea.”

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“Juche itself is a religion, therefore they worry that people may forsake Juche for another religion.”

How is that worry expressed against underground Christians when they are discovered?

Hawke tells of two interviewees who told stories of persecution of  Christians. One told him:

“A young woman, in her twenties, was washing clothes in a tributary to the Tumen River (the border between China and North Korea). When packing up the clothes, she dropped what was believed to be a small Bible. The actual words used by the North Korean authorities were “Christianity book” (kiddokyo chaek).

“Another washer woman reported the girl to the police. According to Interviewee 4, the informer may not have known that the book was a Bible, but all suspicious activity had to be reported to the police.

“The young woman and her father, looking to be roughly sixty years old, were arrested and held by the local Gukgabowibu police for some three months. During that time, the woman and her father were presumably investigated and interrogated. Apparently, they were deemed guilty of a capital offense. On a summer morning in 1997, the two were taken to a market area near where the Seong Cheon River runs into the Tumen River.

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Rob Kerby
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