North Korea (MNN) – North Korea is incensed.
Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA explains, “The United States has put sanctions on North Korean leader Kim Jung, as well as some of his top deputies. What this means is, basically, they cannot conduct financial transactions around the world.”
Since travel and financial transactions from the reclusive country are already sporadic, what effect do the sanctions have on Kim Jung Un and his cronies?
“It is a way of putting pressure on the North Korea regime, as well as drawing attention to their repeated human rights offenses, their repeated nuclear aggressiveness and other things that make them a pariah within the international community.”
Upon word of the sanctions for human rights violations, North Korea severed the only line of communication with the US and called the action a ‘declaration of war’. Pyongyang added that all further matters would be handled under its “wartime laws.”
Nettleton observes, “The North Koreans are famous for their strong language and their propaganda-speak. Very dramatic statements are not uncommon coming from the North Korea regime or from their media.”
He illustrates his point with VOM’s experience with the government. VOM’s Korean partner, Seoul USA, uses balloons to deliver Gospel tracts and New Testaments into North Korea. In a story about that, the North Korean press said if the balloons didn’t stop coming into North Korea, Pyongyang would turn South Korea into a ‘sea of fire’.
So, is a declaration of war an empty threat? Nettleton demurs on that point. “Obviously, it’s serious because it shows there’s tension. But, at this point, I haven’t heard of bombs dropping or guns firing, so there’s still some space between where we are now, and open hostilities.”
North Korea’s state religion, ‘Juche’ requires absolute obedience to the Kim family. Those who engage in Christian activities are subject to arrest, torture, imprisonment and sometimes execution. Those sent to labor camps are forced to work long hours with little food, water or rest.
And yet, says Nettleton, “God is still doing things there. There are still people who are following Jesus in that country.” Aside from the balloon program, VOM also supports a training program to help defectors integrate into South Korean society.
Although it is widely accepted that North Korea is one of the hardest places to be a Christian, “from what I am told from our North Korea brothers and sisters, they say ‘No, don’t say that. We are serving the Lord here. The Lord is blessing us here.’ There is Christian activity going on inside North Korea (but) they have to be very careful.”
Nettleton says one thing to pray about is change in the regime. Until then, “We always want to pray for a sense of encouragement and empowerment for the believers there, that they would not grow weary, and discouraged, but that they would continue to serve the Lord; that they would continue to grow in their faith.”