Has Christianity Hijacked the North Korean Human Rights Crisis?

February 27th, 2012
35

In recent weeks the international community and human rights groups have worked hard to prevent China from sending North Korean refugees back to North Korea. When repatriated, the refugees are subjected to imprisonment, torture and possibly, execution. But why should we criticize China for disregarding human lives for their own political agenda, when Christian missionaries do the same thing for exactly the same reasons ?

1. Christians and North Korea: More Than Spiritual Warfare

Richard E. Kim: 

Propaganda, if you insist. Do you think you can do it? Can you tell all sorts of people we are fighting this war for the glorious cause of independence, our liberty, and, to make the matter more complicated, for the interest and preservation of our democratic system of government? (…) Or would you rather tell them this war is just like any other bloody war in the stinking history of idiotic mankind, that it is nothing but the sickening result of a blind struggle for power among the beastly states, among the rotten politicians and so on, that thousands of people have died and more will die in this stupid war, for nothing, for absolutely nothing, because they are just the innocent victims, helpless pawns in the arena of cold-blooded, calculating international power politics? (Richard E. Kim 1964: 121-122).

In his novel, The Martyred, written in 1964, Richard E. Kim (a Korean born in North Korea who fought for the South Korean army and later migrated to the United States) challenged the manufacturing of Christian martyrdom for the sake of propaganda. His novel investigated the execution of ten ministers by the Communists at the beginning of the Korean War. The North Koreans told them they would spare them if they recanted their faith (a Christian is martyred when he or she is ready to die for his or her faith). In the novel it is progressively revealed that the ten ministers in fact begged for their lives, with one refusing to pray before being executed. One survivor, whose life was spared precisely because he did not recant his faith and in fact had the courage to spit at his executioner’s face, subsequently decided to not unveil the truth about his lucky escape, because he believed that the nation must believe in Christianity to survive the horrors of the war. Thus, he and the South Korean army decide to “manufacture” martyrs out of the situation, even though some of them in fact were betrayers and cowards:

“The twelve martyrs are a great symbol. They are a symbol of the suffering Christians and their eventual triumph. We must not let the martyrs down. We must let everyone witness their spiritual victory over the Reds” (Kim 1964: 48-49).

According to The Martyred, the Korean War was nothing more than the expansion of a conflict of power between Christians and Communists as both ideologies were already competing under Japanese occupation. In the aftermath of the Korean War, the North proceeded to eliminate the Christian community while the South persecuted Communist sympathizers. While that war is by all intents and purposes over (despite the lack of a peace treaty), fundamentalist Christians no longer want to wage war against Communists, but are instead using the humanitarian and human rights crisis to promote their own ideological and political agendas.  Often fundamentalist Christians regard catastrophes as opportunities: the tsunami in Indonesia allowed them to penetrate the Muslim region of Aceh, while the recent earthquake in Japan was described as a God given opportunity to spread the gospel in a country which has hitherto been very resistant to the spread of Christianity.

I deeply admire Christians and missionaries who risk their lives to bring North Korean refugees to a safer place where they will be able to rebuild a new life. We must also give credit to the Christian human rights organizations and individuals who have so often taken the lead in providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea and divulging the existence of labor camps. And as successive South Korean Presidents have failed to address the needs of North Korean refugees, churches have often done excellent work in filling the void by providing social services, education and so on.

In today’s North Korea, there is no or little respect for human rights. All forms of religion have been repressed and Christians are severely persecuted.  Most Christians in South Korea and around the world believe that Christianity threatens the ideology of the North Korean regime, forming the main reason why Christians are persecuted in the DPRK. It is believed that the North Korean government recognizes Christian converts as a security threat and therefore strictly forbids missionary and proselytizing activity. Yet China and North Korea have been tolerating a limited presence of Christian missionaries alongside the China – North Korea border and inside North Korea—because officiously they benefit greatly from the humanitarian and social activities provided by missionaries.  But the activities of these groups are not without consequences, as authorities in both countries regularly arrest and deport religiously oriented aid workers. More importantly, it is North Koreans who painfully pay the price, sometimes with their lives, if discovered that they have been exposed to Christianity either in China or North Korea.

2. Christianity as a political tool

In light of the above, I question the intentions of those who voluntarily manipulate the vulnerability of the refugees to promote their own conversion agenda. A recent article published by the LA times revealed how a South Korean American writer rescued a North Korean refugee not from the hands of the Chinese police, but from the hands of a South Korean missionary who was keeping him hostage to raise funds at home.

Another question that I raise is whether it is ethical to send back North Koreans to evangelize their brethren. In light of the fact that proselytizing activities in North Korea and China are officially illegal and dangerous, such work is conducted underground, which raises the question of transparency, integrity and more importantly, humanity. When North Korean refugees are being trained to go back to North Korea and evangelize, I question the extent to which these people are able to make conscious decisions in light of the post-traumatic stress that ensues departure from North Korea, the predicament of every day life in North Korea itself, and the danger of life in China. Furthermore, it is said that North Koreans can easily absorb new ideologies and do not necessarily fully understand the implications of their decisions: “a survey of defectors point out that North Korean people do not tend to be particularly concerned with ideology. They stress that an ‘absolute obedience to ideology, then, becomes more of a survival tool, something that is, in effect, quite removed from the daily lives and beliefs of people”[1]. In South Korea, many North Korean refugees turn to Christianity because they see it as a survival tool in a highly competitive society and because they are being told that Christianity is the religion of democracy. Furthermore, South Korean Christianity has been deeply influenced by the prosperity gospel, according to which poverty is the product of sin. Therefore they believe that South Korea has become a wealthy and prosperous nation because the church is strong, whilst in North Korea, where people worship their leaders like gods, the citizens have been cursed with famine and poverty. By converting to Christianity, North Koreans will not only be forgiven for their sins but will also automatically embrace capitalist and middle-class values.

Christians will tell me that we should not avoid persecution, however the Bible also teaches us that we should not “volunteer” to be martyrs, so why are these groups exposing North Koreans to such great risks? Jesus himself rarely wanted to reveal his true identity to the people he helped; but instead he often asked them not to tell anyone about him (Matthew 9: 30).

The fact that the Church is being persecuted cannot justify the political discourse that some Christians hold with regards to North Korea. They reinterpret the suffering of the North Koreans to promote their own political and Christian nationalistic agenda. For example, recently the press has highlighted the plight of human rights activist Robert Park, who crossed the North Korean border on Christmas Day 2009 and was detained for two months before being released by the North Koreans. Understandably, Robert Park does not want to share the details of his ordeal with the world but nevertheless wants to see the perpetrators of the crimes committed against him be brought to justice.  In a recent interview, Robert Park told NK News that his case was being exploited by the South Korean press and Christian fundamentalists – representatives of the organization Pax Koreana- to promote an agenda of hatred towards North Korea.  The truth is that some Evangelical Christians, especially in South Korea but also around the world, have been unable to distinguish between human rights activism and their hatred for the North Korean regime. The fact that many North Korea human rights activists are supportive of the South Korean National Security Law means that their aim is not to fight for democracy and human rights but to fight against North Korea.  To be clear, these are not the same things.

3. Promoting religious freedom for all

The great majority of North Korea human rights organizations have made “religious freedom” the main issue of their campaigns. They condemn the persecution of Christians in North Korea and advocate religious freedom. Sadly though, they do not advocate for the freedom of other religions. Yet all forms of religious expression have been repressed in North Korea including Catholicism, Cheondogyo and Buddhism. At an all party political parliamentary group hearing organized in the British Parliament on North Korea in June 2011, a North Korean defector revealed that she had witnessed the public execution of a woman who had been found guilty of consulting a Shaman because her daughter could not become pregnant. But Christian human rights activists never defend the right of North Koreans to consult Shamans or for Shamans to exercise their religious activities in peace. Is the life of a Shaman thus less important than the life of a Christian to these groups?

Underground Church in North Korea

Such “political” Christianity has taken on an authoritarian character that is exclusive of other beliefs and forms of expression.  Where does the South Korean Church stand when Jehovah Witnesses are being imprisoned in South Korea for refusing to comply with their military duty? Where is the Church when the South Korean government repatriates Falun Gong refugees to China? In Korea, some fundamentalist Christians regularly destroy Buddhist places of worship and last year tensions rose between Christians and Buddhists because of favors granted to Christians by current President Lee Myung-bak .

According to a recent article published by the Korean version of the magazine Christianity Today, the only reason why the North Koreans failed to “Communize” South Korea is because (or rather thanks to) the overwhelming presence of the Evangelical church (note that Evangelicalism is not the predominant religion in North Korea, Buddhism is). Does the author, Professor Hoe in fact mean that South Korea did not become Communist because of the evangelical support for authoritarian regimes and military junta in South Korea that characterized the Cold War era?  As far as I know, it was not the Evangelicals who brought democracy to South Korea, but the so-called liberal Protestants, minjung theologians and Catholics. Professor Hoe subsequently encourages all Christians to engage in the struggle for human rights in North Korea and, yes, of course we all should.

4. Freedom First Policy

Christians and non-Christians alike should unite to bring about peace, justice, and human rights on the Korean peninsula.  But it is not the time to prioritize one human right over another one or to use Christianity as a political tool, as it has been done too many times in history. John Paul II said:

“Since it is not an ideology, the Christian faith does not presume to imprison changing socio political realities in a rigid schema, and it recognizes that human life is realized in history in conditions that are diverse and imperfect. Furthermore, in constantly affirming the transcendent dignity of the person, the Church’s method is always that of respect for freedom”.

UN resolutions with regards to human rights in North Korea never prioritize civil and political rights over the right to food, but always emphasize the need of improving all aspects of the lives of North Koreans. Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, former UN rapporteur for human rights in the DPRK, used to plea for a “people first policy” in reference to the military first policy implemented in North Korea. Likewise let us achieve true freedom for all North Koreans and be cautious when being “a voice for the voiceless” – because we Christians have been so loud that we might not have heard what it is that the North Koreans really need and really want. I look forward to the day North Koreans will be free to choose between Buddhism, Catholicism or Evangelical Christianity, Shamanism or choose to believe in nothing – because that is okay too. I look forward to freedom of religions for all North Koreans and I am a pretty sure that God is looking forward to that day too.


[1] Roland Bleiker, 2005. Divided Korea: Toward a Culture of Reconciliation. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 26-27.


 

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About the Author

Marie-Laure Verdier

Marie Verdier is a Doctoral Student at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.


Join the discussion

  • newageman

    A good article, very balanced!

    However, what is missing is the historical fact that
    Christians constituted a pro-US political force in NK
    when Korea was divided in 1945. Many of them also
    served as interpreters and assistants for the US military
    during the Korean War. This was probably the main reason
    why North Korean authorty took a hardline against Christianity.

    A major problem with Christian groups’ advocacy for freedom and
    human rights in NK is that they ignore the ongoing Korean War,
    which has never been officially ended with a peace treaty.

    As long as military tensions exist on the Korean Peninsula, Korean
    authorities will try to limit people’s freedom in the name of “national security.”
    This is why they should first work for a permanet peace in Korea if they really
    want to promote freedom and human rights in NK.

  • Anonymous

    A good article, very balanced!

    However, what is missing is the historical fact that
    Christians constituted a pro-US political force in NK
    when Korea was divided in 1945. Many of them also
    served as interpreters and assistants for the US military
    during the Korean War. This was probably the main reason
    why North Korean authorty took a hardline against Christianity.

    A major problem with Christian groups’ advocacy for freedom and
    human rights in NK is that they ignore the ongoing Korean War,
    which has never been officially ended with a peace treaty.

    As long as military tensions exist on the Korean Peninsula, Korean
    authorities will try to limit people’s freedom in the name of “national security.”
    This is why they should first work for a permanet peace in Korea if they really
    want to promote freedom and human rights in NK.

  • Ykim48

    I would like the author to prove a few points.

    1. You – the author – argue that Christianity in South Korea is a religion heavily influenced by prosperity gospel; thus, South Korean Christians believe that North Korea, as a God-less nation, is paying for its sins. 

    What is your evidence? I am not entirely certain that someone with your academic credentials (your profile does indicate that you are a PhD candidate) can make such claims without providing empirical evidence. 

    2. I believe that – as you claim – Christians in DPRK are viewed as security threats; however, I am not entirely certain if DPRK regime actually believes that Christianity, as an ideology, poses an existential threat to the government. Rather, it is the formation of organizations engendered by religion that Pyongyang is ultimately fearful of. 

    It is necessary to correctly argue why Christianity is a threat to the DPRK regime, and instead of just examining the ideological-aspect of religion, perhaps it is wiser to analyze the possibility of organization that religion provides. 

    3. “As far as I know, it was not the Evangelicals who brought democracy to South Korea, but the so-called liberal Protestants, minjung theologians and Catholics.” 

    The statement above is a gross overgeneralization of the evolution of democracy in South Korea. 

    • Turnipface

      1. Ad hominem attack, nice.

    • James_C

      Do you disagree with what she is saying though? seems your points are not really that relevant.  Basically, christian human rights NGOs (some of them at least) appear to be risking lives of many koreans in dprk.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Davis/19904733 Eric Davis

      North Korea fears both. Christianity states that God is to be placed above all other things. The KWP states that Kim Il Sung is to be placed above all others. There is a conflict there.

      You should really read about Suryeong’s past to find that his family was deeply religious, a possible insight as to how he crafted the cult of personality that surrounds him, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Porky Pig.

  • Ykim48

    I would like the author to prove a few points.

    1. You – the author – argue that Christianity in South Korea is a religion heavily influenced by prosperity gospel; thus, South Korean Christians believe that North Korea, as a God-less nation, is paying for its sins. 

    What is your evidence? I am not entirely certain that someone with your academic credentials (your profile does indicate that you are a PhD candidate) can make such claims without providing empirical evidence. 

    2. I believe that – as you claim – Christians in DPRK are viewed as security threats; however, I am not entirely certain if DPRK regime actually believes that Christianity, as an ideology, poses an existential threat to the government. Rather, it is the formation of organizations engendered by religion that Pyongyang is ultimately fearful of. 

    It is necessary to correctly argue why Christianity is a threat to the DPRK regime, and instead of just examining the ideological-aspect of religion, perhaps it is wiser to analyze the possibility of organization that religion provides. 

    3. “As far as I know, it was not the Evangelicals who brought democracy to South Korea, but the so-called liberal Protestants, minjung theologians and Catholics.” 

    The statement above is a gross overgeneralization of the evolution of democracy in South Korea. 

    • Turnipface

      1. Ad hominem attack, nice.

    • James_C

      Do you disagree with what she is saying though? seems your points are not really that relevant.  Basically, christian human rights NGOs (some of them at least) appear to be risking lives of many koreans in dprk.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Davis/19904733 Eric Davis

      North Korea fears both. Christianity states that God is to be placed above all other things. The KWP states that Kim Il Sung is to be placed above all others. There is a conflict there.

      You should really read about Suryeong’s past to find that his family was deeply religious, a possible insight as to how he crafted the cult of personality that surrounds him, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Porky Pig.

  • Ykim48

    In conclusion, it seems like you’re expressing your frustration over the overtly political nature of South Korean Christian organizations, and I fundamentally understand the main point of the argument. However, your inability to coherently present evidence to support your unsubstantiated claims is the article’s biggest weakness. 

    Good day to you.

    • Mcr

      Actually, I disagree with you there completely. I think the article was balanced, academic and well supported through article references, interviews, UN reports and the likes. So, yes, this is a well-sourced piece and not an article full of unsubstantiated claims as you argue.

      I find it petty of you to attack the authors “academic credentials” and raise irrelevant questions that miss the mark of the author’s argument. The author is not writing a thesis here and she may choose what information she wishes to include in her argument.

      I’ve worked in the DPRK for years, and I also have a good number of friends in the South who are defectors, so for me a lot of what the author is writing on resonates well with my own experiences.

      To the author: solid analysis and you are hitting a sensitive topic directly which is sure to bring some negative commentary. I commend you on your piece.

  • Ykim48

    In conclusion, it seems like you’re expressing your frustration over the overtly political nature of South Korean Christian organizations, and I fundamentally understand the main point of the argument. However, your inability to coherently present evidence to support your unsubstantiated claims is the article’s biggest weakness. 

    Good day to you.

    • Mcr

      Actually, I disagree with you there completely. I think the article was balanced, academic and well supported through article references, interviews, UN reports and the likes. So, yes, this is a well-sourced piece and not an article full of unsubstantiated claims as you argue.

      I find it petty of you to attack the authors “academic credentials” and raise irrelevant questions that miss the mark of the author’s argument. The author is not writing a thesis here and she may choose what information she wishes to include in her argument.

      I’ve worked in the DPRK for years, and I also have a good number of friends in the South who are defectors, so for me a lot of what the author is writing on resonates well with my own experiences.

      To the author: solid analysis and you are hitting a sensitive topic directly which is sure to bring some negative commentary. I commend you on your piece.

  • http://twitter.com/MarieChosun Marie

    Thank you so much all for your comments, especially for the encouraging ones :) I knew this was a sensitive subject and there are lots of people out there doing so much for the North Koreans, this article was not about them. I am a Christian myself and my aim was not to criticize freely but to challenge and raise the level of the debate because I believe we can use conflict to move forward and be more constructive. Marie-Laure

  • http://twitter.com/MarieChosun Marie

    Thank you so much all for your comments, especially for the encouraging ones :) I knew this was a sensitive subject and there are lots of people out there doing so much for the North Koreans, this article was not about them. I am a Christian myself and my aim was not to criticize freely but to challenge and raise the level of the debate because I believe we can use conflict to move forward and be more constructive. Marie-Laure

  • Kankuro

    Dear North Koreans, dont get caught by the illusion called Christianity.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/WHH3MNMAV55WITWNZ4EXZXOOYU Joke R

      The existance of God doesn’t matter. To believers, it is real, and most importantly it is a source of hope and happiness; that’s what counts, especially in some hopeless country like North Korea.

  • Kankuro

    Dear North Koreans, dont get caught by the illusion called Christianity.

  • Hank Song

    The answer is, ‘NO’…  Without Christianity the issue of NK human rights would be something no one knows, or cares about…

  • Hank Song

    The answer is, ‘NO’…  Without Christianity the issue of NK human rights would be something no one knows, or cares about…

  • David Dark

    Does this article not confuse two things. 
    1. The fact that in North Korea anyone, for almost anything, will be imprisoned (more often than not resulting in death), and or put to death, for almost anything at all. Very often for nothing at all. 
    And 2. That different groups and organisations outside of North Korea have over the years highlighted the above and many more abuses, in a variety of way and from a variety of divergent world views.  
    For me the irony here is that a genuine generic communist, and his or her counterpart from the Christian world, normally have the same primary objective. That in light of the situation as outlined in 1, it would be highly desirable for things to dramatically change. There is no conflict between these two groups in this aspect at all. After all, a Christian can not convert a dead person. So the Christian need the person to be alive and have enough food to be not near death. 
    So a little less fighting between groups of do gooders and a little more focus on the common objectives please.
    btw. I count the author as a personal friend. North Korea is her passion. I admire her dedication to the people of North Korea, just as I do for all others who work toward justice and dignity for people all over the world. Why these people do these selfless things is not my initial concern. They do it. They, pardon the catch cry, ”Just Do It”. Long my they continue doing it.

  • David Dark

    Does this article not confuse two things. 
    1. The fact that in North Korea anyone, for almost anything, will be imprisoned (more often than not resulting in death), and or put to death, for almost anything at all. Very often for nothing at all. 
    And 2. That different groups and organisations outside of North Korea have over the years highlighted the above and many more abuses, in a variety of way and from a variety of divergent world views.  
    For me the irony here is that a genuine generic communist, and his or her counterpart from the Christian world, normally have the same primary objective. That in light of the situation as outlined in 1, it would be highly desirable for things to dramatically change. There is no conflict between these two groups in this aspect at all. After all, a Christian can not convert a dead person. So the Christian need the person to be alive and have enough food to be not near death. 
    So a little less fighting between groups of do gooders and a little more focus on the common objectives please.
    btw. I count the author as a personal friend. North Korea is her passion. I admire her dedication to the people of North Korea, just as I do for all others who work toward justice and dignity for people all over the world. Why these people do these selfless things is not my initial concern. They do it. They, pardon the catch cry, ”Just Do It”. Long my they continue doing it.

  • Unknowndude

    The message of the Cross is the Gospel of salvation.

    Our concern is not with politics and all the complications.

    Christians are to bring the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

    Arguing about politics and talking about rights rights rights is ridiculous.

    I believe the question to the writer and also to the Christians in south korea or north korea, in fact to all Christians who have truly encountered God and have a relationship with Him is:

    Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

    Is the kingdom of God democratic? Is the Lord American or European? Is the cause of the Kingdom, freedom of speech and human rights among other rights often cited by democracies.

    I’m not against democracy, freedom of speech, human rights etc.

    However, the precepts of men are not the commandments of God.

    The Kingdom of God is not a democracy, it has a King who exercises absolute power and who will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

    I believe that while democracy would be a progression for North Korea, the agenda of the Kingdom of God is to invade North Korea with the Gospel to influence every stratum of society in North Korea with kingdom values and principles. Not to turn it democratic. But to turn it to the Lord!

    Look at the state of America and Europe, the capitols of democracy. If democracy was the agenda of the Kingdom, then they would not be in the spiritual state it is in today.

    But Christians need to see that the government of the Kingdom of God needs to be brought into the earth, to influence as salt against the decay in every stratum of society.
    Not lobby and promote democracy, human rights, political rights and whatsoever. They might be necessary to the procedure, but the end goal is that the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    • Nagoya

      Yes, I agree! I also think it is a Christian’s concern to care about the “whole” being of the person in the physical, mental, and spiritual. And because politics and ideology bring obvious impacts on North Koreans, especially Christians since they are harshly persecuted in NK, then if the Christians who are interested in assisting them inevitably must care about politics and ideals for the sake of understanding and counseling North Koreans.

       Spreading the gospel means speaking truth and debunking lies. But making cultural and national perspectives, attitudes, and actions as a requirement for conversion is something that often makes missions backfire. Those things are secondary. 

      However, there is one example that politics is necessary: citizens are taught that Kim Jong-Il is like a god. In order to preach the gospel, you would come head-on into the issue of the Juche. That in itself is political. God doesn’t have one set of rules for government and another for way of living-all come from one bible.Christians should not make debating their aim, but they should be able to discern what is biblical truth and what national ideals are contradictory to it. This is also to help Christians themselves understand the impact of Juche on those who were raised with these beliefs in order to speak the truth in love, and to be constantly aware of their own pre-supposed framework so that they won’t unnecessarily force secondary beliefs upon NK refugees.

  • Unknowndude

    The message of the Cross is the Gospel of salvation.

    Our concern is not with politics and all the complications.

    Christians are to bring the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

    Arguing about politics and talking about rights rights rights is ridiculous.

    I believe the question to the writer and also to the Christians in south korea or north korea, in fact to all Christians who have truly encountered God and have a relationship with Him is:

    Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

    Is the kingdom of God democratic? Is the Lord American or European? Is the cause of the Kingdom, freedom of speech and human rights among other rights often cited by democracies.

    I’m not against democracy, freedom of speech, human rights etc.

    However, the precepts of men are not the commandments of God.

    The Kingdom of God is not a democracy, it has a King who exercises absolute power and who will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

    I believe that while democracy would be a progression for North Korea, the agenda of the Kingdom of God is to invade North Korea with the Gospel to influence every stratum of society in North Korea with kingdom values and principles. Not to turn it democratic. But to turn it to the Lord!

    Look at the state of America and Europe, the capitols of democracy. If democracy was the agenda of the Kingdom, then they would not be in the spiritual state it is in today.

    But Christians need to see that the government of the Kingdom of God needs to be brought into the earth, to influence as salt against the decay in every stratum of society.
    Not lobby and promote democracy, human rights, political rights and whatsoever. They might be necessary to the procedure, but the end goal is that the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven.

  • guest

    Christianity is no illusion

  • guest

    Christianity is no illusion

  • Diego Oliveira

    Meanwhile, the ones who keep a low profile and do show to a sizeable portion of the North Korean people that there are people “out there” who care about their most urgent concrete needs are the non-proselytizing Buddhists of Tzu Chi Compassionate Relief. Its ambitious food aid aimed at reaching 400 000 people (4~5% of the total population, directly handed to the people by disciplined volunteers who, momentarily refraining from explicitly preaching the Dharma, could bestow a little human warmth on people.

    Story at reliefweb.int:

    Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the) Tzu Chi Foundation held Food Relief Aid Distribution in North Korea              http://reliefweb.int/node/458923

    Unfortunately, the operation was interrupted by the death of Kim Jeong-Il.

    http://www.tw.tzuchi.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=906%3Atzu-chi-relief-team-leaves-north-korea-after-death-of-kim-jong-il&catid=1%3Ataiwan&Itemid=263&lang=en

  • Diego Oliveira

    Meanwhile, the ones who keep a low profile and do show to a sizeable portion of the North Korean people that there are people “out there” who care about their most urgent concrete needs are the non-proselytizing Buddhists of Tzu Chi Compassionate Relief. Its ambitious food aid aimed at reaching 400 000 people (4~5% of the total population, directly handed to the people by disciplined volunteers who, momentarily refraining from explicitly preaching the Dharma, could bestow a little human warmth on people.

    Story at reliefweb.int:

    Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the) Tzu Chi Foundation held Food Relief Aid Distribution in North Korea              http://reliefweb.int/node/458923

    Unfortunately, the operation was interrupted by the death of Kim Jeong-Il.

    http://www.tw.tzuchi.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=906%3Atzu-chi-relief-team-leaves-north-korea-after-death-of-kim-jong-il&catid=1%3Ataiwan&Itemid=263&lang=en

  • Finelset

    It makes perfect sense that Christians, who believe in their religion over others would advocate for what they believe is true. We’ll leave it up to the Shamans to advocate for Shamanism in NK. That’s why there are different groups with different purposes. This line of thinking advocates for an “loose acceptance of everything,” and once someone is passionate for something they believe, he/she is condemned for being “narrow” and “exclusive.” Groups of certain interests exist around the world, and this article condemns Christianity as sole the culprit of exclusiveness when every organization has its own mission and objectives as well. Should Heifer International, the Red Cross, and other large organizations be condemned for not supporting other humanitarian sectors as well?

  • Fred Bauder

    Excellent comment. No one who has experienced it and its works should be surprised to see determined opposition to fundamentalist Christianity. Not that life at hard labor is an appropriate punishment.

  • hh

    This article is garbage. Shame on you for villainizing human rights efforts.

  • hh

    This article is garbage. Shame on you for villainizing human rights efforts.

  • Kenneth Vaughan

    The title asks if Christianity has hijacked a system, but the text largely explains what irritates the author when it comes to Christianity and North Korea related things. The evidence is largely anecdotal. I’m going to have to disagree with those describing the article as academic in nature, as the use of a research question and evidences are weak.