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North Korea begins new day with old regime

By December 28, 2011

North
Korea (MNN) — North Korea sent off their "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il in  a massive ceremonial farewell Tuesday. At the same time, North Korea moved to
strengthen a new personality cult around Kim's son and successor, Kim Jong-Un.

It's
usually the unknown that has people on edge, wondering what changes will be
coming with a successor. However, there's good and bad news on that front. Todd
Nettleton is a spokesman for The Voice of the Martyrs USA. "I spoke the
night after the announcement of Kim Jong-Il's death with one of our VOM workers
who works on the Korean peninsula, and his message was,  'Don't look for any significant changes, at
least in the short-term.'"

It's
widely thought that Kim Jong-Il had been ill for some time, so the likelihood
that whoever was running the country in his absence will continue to do so
under the  name of Kim Jong-Un. "There were people who were making the
decisions and keeping things going on his behalf. It is believed that those
same people will now be in charge behind the scenes for Kim Jong-Un, maintain his authority, maintain his
power."

The country has been known for its
disregard for human and religious rights. North Korea's policies and practices that persecute believers have kept
it atop the Open Doors World Watch List
for over four years. It is estimated that between 50,000 to 70,000
Christians suffer in prison camps because of their faith. People rarely get out
of alive.

Despite
that, the reclusive nation claims they have freedom of religion. Nettleton explains, "If you acknowledge Kim
Jong-Il as a divine being, if you pray to Kim Il Sung–the founder of North
Korea, and expect him to provide blessings and provisions in your life, then
there is religious freedom for you."

In practice, there is no freedom to build
churches or to worship in homes. An estimated 400,000 Christians practice their
faith in underground networks. Possession of a Bible or Christian material is
illegal and punishable by death.

Two
years ago, authorities stepped up their surveillance of Christians, and house
searches are said to be more rigorous than in the past.   

Why the overkill response to
Christians? Nettleton says believers are
viewed as "a danger to society." "Locking people in concentration
camps–not just the people who are assumed to be guilty of this crime but
their parents and their children as well"– is not an unusual response. "Three generations to try to rid the country
of this Christian philosophy that
undermines not only the religion of Juche and the religion of the Kim's as divine
beings, but it undermines the legitimacy of the government itself."  

VOM
has been working with persecuted believers in North Korea for decades,
including launching thousands of Scripture balloons across into the notoriously
closed country. They've also found
another way to get the hope of Christ across the borders: "sending Gospel
broadcasts across the border into North Korea. A part of that Gospel broadcast is slowly reading the Scripture so that
people can write it down as the person is reading."  

Pray
for the protection of believers living under harsh conditions and those who
have defected to China. Ask God to use their courageous testimonies to draw non-believers
into fellowship with Him. "Pray for the rest of North Korea to see the
falsehood of the Juche religion and the falsehood of the Kim family as divine
beings. We can pray that God will provide truth to them."

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