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?
Hawke relates this account from a refugee he calls “Interviewee 17″:
“While Interviewee 17 was in the North Korean Army, his unit was dispatched to widen the highway between Pyongyang and the nearby port city of Nampo.
“They were demolishing a vacated house in Yongkang county, Yongkang district town, when in a basement between two bricks they found a Bible and a small notebook that contained 25 names, one identified as pastor, two as chon-do-sa (assistant pastors), two as elders, and 20 other names, apparently parishioners, identified by their occupations.
“The soldiers turned the Bible and notebook over to the local branch of Department 15 of the Korean Workers Party (KWP), but the Party officials said it was up to the military police unit, Bowisaryungbu gigwanwon, to investigate.
“Tracked down at their place of work through the listing of occupation in the notebook, the 25 persons were picked up without formal arrest by the military bowibu.
“In November 1996, the 25 were brought to the road construction site. Four concentric rectangular rows of spectators were assembled to watch the execution. Interviewee 17 was in the first row.
“The five leaders to be executed – the pastor, two assistant pastors, and two elders – were bound hand and foot and made to lie down in front of a steamroller. This steamroller was a large construction vehicle imported from Japan with a heavy, huge, and wide steel roller mounted on the front to crush and level the roadway prior to pouring concrete. The other twenty persons were held just to the side.
“ The condemned were accused of being Kiddokyo (Protestant Christian) spies and conspiring to engage in subversive activities. Nevertheless, they were told, ‘If you abandon religion and serve only
Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, you will not be killed.’
“None of the five said a word. Some of the fellow parishioners assembled to watch the execution cried, screamed out, or fainted when the [leaders] were crushed beneath the steamroller.
“Interviewee 17 thought, at the time, that these church people were crazy. He thought then that religion was an ‘opiate,’ and it was stupid for them to give up their lives for religion. He heard from the soldiers who took away the other twenty prisoners that they were being sent to a prison camp. He sketched from memory a diagram of the execution scene.
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