North Korean Christians arrested; current status unknown

By November 9, 2007

North Korea (VOM) — In a highly
unusual press conference in Pyongyang in September, the National Security
Service of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced the
arrest of “foreign spies” and “native citizens working for a foreign
intelligence service.”  The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), a ministry serving
Christians in restricted nations who are persecuted for their faith, announced
today that those arrested in North Korea were in fact Christian believers and
not spies.

The security
service spokesman at the press conference, Li Su Gil, said that those arrested
“carried out the missions by means of diverse espionage equipment.” He did not
name any of those arrested.

VOM has
identified the following North Korean Christians who have disappeared and are
believed to have been arrested by government authorities:

               

Onseong, North Hamgyong Province:

Chul Huh,
male               
              

Chun-Il Jang, male, 39       

Young-Su Jin,
male,

Myung-Chul Kim, male, 36          

Nam-Suk Kang, male, 48   

Young-Yae Lee, female, 37

 

               

Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province:

San-Ho Kang, male, 36

 

Cheongjin, North Hamgyong Province:

Mi-Hae Park, female, 30                              

Suk-Chun Suh, male, 29

 

These North
Korean Christians had started a portrait photography studio to help support
themselves, and had registered their businesses with appropriate government
authorities. According to VOM sources working in North Korea, they were not
involved in espionage activities. It is believed that equipment taken by the
government was in fact photography equipment used in their portrait work.

“Following
Jesus Christ is considered treason in North Korea, where the government
mandates that worship is reserved for deceased dictator Kim Il Sung and his
son, the current dictator, Kim Jong Il,” said Todd Nettleton, spokesperson for
VOM. “The Voice of the Martyrs is proud to stand with Christ’s followers in
North Korea, and deeply concerned for the well-being of our brothers and
sisters there. We call on the North Korean government to release these
Christian believers, who were involved in legitimate business activities to
support themselves and their families.”

The Voice of
the Martyrs has been actively involved in helping North Korean Christians for
decades. Among the projects the ministry has carried out for North Korea is the
launch of thousands of “scripture balloons,” mylar balloons filled with helium
and printed on either side with scripture passages. VOM has conducted other
projects to help North Korean Christians but cannot discuss details publicly to
protect the safety of VOM workers and contacts inside North Korea.

VOM sources
do not know the whereabouts of the arrested believers. It is possible that they
have already been tried and executed.

“We pray
that they are alive,” said Nettleton. “But we know it is possible that they
have finished their race on earth and gone on to their eternal reward in
heaven. We encourage Christians everywhere to pray for our brothers and sisters
in North Korea, who must constantly face the threat of arrest, torture and
execution simply for living out their faith in Jesus Christ.”

Christians
are encouraged to write letters protesting the arrest to the DPRK delegation to
the United Nations:

Permanent
Mission of the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue, 13th Floor

New
York,  NY  10017

Leave a Reply