April 21, 2021

How Christian missionaries are spreading the Gospel in North Korea

Inside the shadowy network of front companies Christian missionaries use to spread the gospel in North Korea

by Justin Rohlich and Chad O'Carroll

For nearly two years, Kenneth Bae, an undercover missionary from Lynnwood, Wash., safely shuttled groups of Christians in and out of North Korea’s Rason Special Economic Zone. In November 2012, Bae’s crusade ended abruptly. The owner of Nations Tour, a China-based front company he formed as a cover to evangelize in the world’s last Stalinist state, Bae was arrested by North Korean agents as he passed through the Wonjong border crossing with a small group of European travelers. The 44-year-old Korean-American was charged with possession of “anti-DPRK literature,” convicted of encouraging foreigners to  “perpetrate hostile acts to bring down [the] government,” and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.