North Korea (MNN) — While the reports of the execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle were verified, the method of execution was open to speculation.
Then, a report surfaced last week about Jang Song Thaek and his advisers being fed to wild dogs. Major news sources picked up the story, and even as it picked up headlines, the debunks were being published in equal force.
Todd Nettleton, spokesman with the Voice of the Martyrs USA, says, “It was traced back to a Chinese newspaper and then eventually to a social media post that may or may not have been satire. So everything that comes out of North Korea, really, we need to look at carefully. We need to cross reference between multiple sources to see what’s true and what’s not.”
Reports coming out of the recluse nation have to be examined closely because “it’s just so difficult to get information out of the country. Anything that does come out needs to be questioned: ‘What’s the agenda behind it?’ ‘Who released it?’ ‘Is it a credible source?'”
The problem was that the stories debunking the urban legend had little more than ‘it probably didn’t happen that way.’ Experts doubted the veracity, noting the detail in the report, the numbers of dogs, victims, and more. Yet they also noted that this form of execution was used in North Korea to punish prisoners. Nettleton says one thing it DOES prove: “Just the fact that we think that it MIGHT be true says how terrible things are in North Korea.
“If Kim Jong-un will kill his own uncle, he will certainly kill anyone else who crosses the regime or who is perceived to be disloyal,” Nettleton adds.
Within North Korea, those perceived disloyal include anyone who worships someone other than Kim Jong-un. Nettleton explains, “It’s treason. It undermines the very legitimacy of the North Korean government. That’s why Christians are persecuted so severely.”
In fact, for the 12th year in a row, North Korea tops the 2014 World Watch List, released yesterday by Open Doors USA. The WWL is a ranking of the 50 countries where persecution of Christians is the most severe.
In the report, Open Doors says believers must hide their decision to follow Christ. Being caught with a Bible is grounds for execution or a life-long political prison sentence. An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians live in concentration camps, prisons, and prison-like circumstances under Kim Jong-un.
And yet, there IS a Church. The Voice of the Martyrs has been active in North Korea for decades, including launching tens of thousands of “Scripture Balloons,” helium filled balloons that are printed with Scripture passages and other Gospel messages.
It’s a message that gets through in a country where very little else does. Nettleton says far
from being helpless, you can “pray for the protection and safety of our Christian brothers and sisters. Pray for opportunities to witness, and then I think it’s fair to pray for a government that respects its own people and values their safety and their health.”
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