North Korea further isolates; persecution likely to follow

By June 11, 2009

North Korea (MNN) — Seven key
nations have agreed on new U.N. sanctions against North Korea for conducting a
second nuclear test. 

According to Reuters, the draft
resolution "demands that
(it) not conduct any further nuclear test or any launch using ballistic missile technology."

The United States was initially pushing
for more financial sanctions against Pyongyang, but the resolution instead discourages
new financial commitments except for humanitarian/development projects.

The resolution also expands the partial arms
embargo and requests that sales be reported to the United Nations. The last part of the action requires North Korea sanctions committee to update
its list of companies aiding Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs within 30
days.

Glenn Penner with
Voice of the Martyrs Canada says the move won't do much to improve the situation for
believers. "Christians are viewed
with great suspicion in North Korea already. They are viewed as an enemy of the
state, and so if they're discovered, they're imprisoned, tortured, and often
killed at the best of times."

Their team notes that speaking
out against Kim Jong Il or showing signs of hostility towards his regime
carries with it severe consequences, including detention in concentration and
prison camps. Estimates suggest roughly
200,000 North Koreans, many of whom are believed to be Christians, are behind
bars.

Religious prisoners are often
subjected to harsher treatment in an effort to force them to renounce their
faith. When they refuse, they are often tortured to death. Those caught praying
are beaten and tortured.

Many Christians, isolated and
often facing extreme danger, feel forgotten by believers elsewhere.
However, Penner says their team is active, though underground. "We are able to help the believers in
North Korea, and we are letting them know that they have not been
forgotten. [We're doing] everything from
helping provide food to providing training
and Christian literature." 

Keep praying for the Christians
in North Korea. As tensions increase, so
will their persecution, Penner explains. "There are more believers there than I think most people would
suspect. They do worship in very small groups very secretly. There are
deliberate attempts by the North Korean authorities to infiltrate them. Pray
for their security, pray for their safety, and pray that they'll continue to
grow in the grace of God." 

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