North Korea (MNN) — South Korea is “getting ready for the worst case scenario,” says the country’s Defense Ministry. This, after North Korea claimed last week to have successfully conducted its fifth nuclear test, and has the capability to mount another at any time.
Open Doors USA spokeswoman Emily Fuentes says, “North Korea has done the most they’ve done in a long time in testing recently. It is cause for concern; it is cause for speculation on what they might be doing and what their plans might be for war against the world.”
This year, the reclusive nation has been increasing its pace in testing weapons and improving its nuclear and missile capabilities. South Korea is readying a defense, warning it will annihilate Pyongyang if North Korea looks like it is going to attack.
It’s enough to alarm the international community. The UN Security Council, along with Japan, South Korea, and the United States are looking at additional sanctions, a move which North Korea shrugs off.
North Korea has been undeterred despite being banned by the UN from any tests of nuclear or missile technology. Five sets of UN sanctions since 2006 failed to slow its ambition for nuclear arms. In March, sanctions prohibited North Korea from supplying aviation fuel and the sale of small arms. Four months later, the Obama administration hit Kim Jong Un and 10 other regime officials with personal sanctions for human rights abuses against the North Korean people.
Fuentes explains that part of those abuses include the elimination of Christians. “According to his ideology, he’s essentially ‘god’; the Kim dynasty is ‘god,’ and because Christianity is associated with the West, it’s a double whammy, a double threat, so Christians are targeted.”
She warns it could actually get worse. “As he’s gaining (in his mind) more control, not only is he trying to wage a war against the world, but also, the first people he’ll continue to attack in his own country will be minority groups. And Christians are usually the ones who are targeted the most.”
And yet, there is still a seed. According to Open Doors UK, in 1907, there was a revival in Pyongyang. As the story goes, during that revival, the capital became known as the ‘Jerusalem of the East’, and hundreds of churches sprang up. Today, despite the threat of eradication, Open Doors estimates there are between 200,000 and 400,000 Christians in North Korea.
That’s good news, but considering North Korea is also best known for its complete suppression of Christians, most of them keep their faith completely secret.
“We’ve got to keep praying for their safety”, says Fuentes, not that persecution would end, but for something more. “That they would be able to stand strong as they are enduring this persecution, that they would continue to be Christ-like.”
Open Doors partners think there are around 70,000 Christians incarcerated in labor camps. Some of these partners meet with these underground followers of Christ when they escape into China. Once they are in China, they can, in a safe house, receive training and encouragement and take food, Bibles and other materials back with them into North Korea.
Why would a Christian who has escaped go back? God is moving. She explains, “The number one thing though believers in North Korea are asking for is prayer. They know things have happened that shouldn’t have happened in their country. They have seen prison guards turn to Christ, they’ve seen elected officials turn to Christ — people of great influence — turned to Christ.”
Pray wisdom for Open Doors’ partners as they support the Church in North Korea.