The Kim regime, leading North Korea 70 years, often tortures, deprives and murders Christians.
Kim Il-sung had 500 statues of himself put up across North Korea, including this towering one (left) alongside son Kim Jong-il's (right). North Koreans bow to the Kims in worship.
Tragedy continues: North Korea falsely held Otto Warmbier, 21 and Jewish, and sent him back to the USA 18 months later with severe brain damage. He died shortly after release.
Kim Jong-un, ruler of North Korea since 2011, killed his uncle & the man's family yet is praised by official news as “a great person born of heaven.”
Great-grandparents of Kim Jong-un, current North Korea head, were saved in the Pyongyang Revival of 1907-10. This is a 100th anniversary video.
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North Korean defector Ju Ill-yong tells President Trump he escaped from the Kim regime, but his cousin's family was not so fortunate. Ju says the government murdered all for sharing the gospel.
The Soviets installed Kim Il-sung (born Kim Song-ju) as North Korea's head in 1945. He was to be in control of the nation for nearly 50 years.
Ju Ill-yong is just 23, but he’s seen enough persecution to last a few lifetimes. The North Korean fled to the Jesus-friendly South, but his cousin’s entire family was executed for sharing the gospel in the poorly named Democratic People's Republic of Korea. He told Donald Trump his story as part of a group interviewed by the president for the U.S. State Department's 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
Communist North Korea, with its erratic, violent yet cherubic leader Kim Jong-un, 36, is the worst persecutor of Christianity of the nearly 200 nations on the planet, according to monitoring groups such as Open Doors USA. The U.S. State Department for 17 straight years has cited the nation for "severe, ongoing, egregious, systematic violations of religious freedom" and rated it among the 10 most repressive regimes worldwide.
Believers have been deprived of medical attention and supplies, robbed of their possessions, and executed by such cruel means as steamrollers. Food is used as a means of control in a land often unable to feed its own people.
Look back in time, and you may be surprised to learn that Jong-un has Christians in his family within the last century. Kim Hyong-jik, his great-grandfather, was educated in Christian schools, attended church, and served as a part-time Protestant missionary before succumbing to health problems in 1926 at the young age of 31. His wife, Kang Pan-sok, was a Presbyterian deaconess and named for the apostle Peter. Chilgol Church in Pyongyang, one of but two Protestant assemblies in all of North Korea, was dedicated to her. The couple was part of the 1907 Christian revival that began in Korea as foreign missionaries and locals repented for sin. It soon swept the region, bringing many thousands to Christ.
So what happened to the Kims?
The present brutal regime began with the couple’s oldest son, Kim Song-ju. Born in 1912, he was a young teen when his father died. His mother became involved in the attempt to repulse the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula that had begun in 1910. At 14, the boy founded the Down-with-Imperialism Union. During high school, he became radicalized by communist ideology, rejecting Korean feudalism. He joined the Chinese Communist Party at 19, settling in Manchuria, where Koreans often went for food in famine.
Kim Song-ju worked his way up through the guerilla resistance to Japan, having some military successes. He led his detachment into the Soviet Union to escape Japanese forces, and there fell in with the Russian Communist Party. Soon after, the Soviets declared war on Japan as World War II waned, and the USSR made Kim the chairman of the North Korean branch of the Korean Communist Party. He took over as premier of the new communist republic in 1948, and remained in control of the nation until death in 1994.
He took the name Kim Il-sung – “Kim who became the sun” – at 23, the same age as Ju. While he said he discouraged it, he actively promoted a cult of personality throughout his life. He started referring to himself as “Great Leader” shortly after the republic emerged, and he presided over the making of several hundred statues of his likeness that dotted the country’s landscape. There is an “Immortal Statue of Kim Il-sung,” and Yong Saeng ("eternal life") monuments are dedicated to him as "Eternal Leader.” This self-glorification coincided with his downgrading of Christian beliefs to "essentially superstitious."
The “Eternal Leader” cost millions their lives in the early 1950s as he invaded South Korea to reunify the peninsula. When the United Nations intervened on the South’s behalf, Kim’s troops were virtually driven out of both Koreas. Only China’s entering the war when UN soldiers came too close to the Land of the Dragon saved the North Korean Communist regime.
To maintain control, Kim Il-sung followed the lead of Soviet despot Josef Stalin and started falsely accusing fellow Communists of disloyalty, soon executing them or making them disappear into forced labor camps. He ordered foreign workers with specialized skills visiting North Korea to be seized, compelling them to fill spots nationals could not. His desire for North Korean self-reliance (“Juche”) had him spurn foreign help at times, and his government’s confiscation of crops caused the suicides of hundreds of farmers. Serious famines plagued the country in the early 1990s and periodically throughout his iron-fisted rule. Military forces received plenteous rations, however, under the pretense of maintaining readiness though Kim Il-sung’s true motivation likely was to keep his corrupt administration in power by force, if necessary.
Article 68 of the 1972 North Korean Constitution says, “Citizens have freedom of religious beliefs,” but adds, “Religion must not be used as a pretext for drawing in foreign forces or for harming the State and social order.” The latter clause has allowed the imprisonment and murder of hundreds of thousands of Christians, as government officials – most notably, Kim Il-sung’s son and successor Kim Jong-il and grandson Kim Jong-un – have come to view the Bible as a symbol of the West and the spread of the gospel as a “subversive influence.”
Kim Jong-il assumed office upon Kim Il-sung’s death, and the new dictator became known as “Dear Leader.” Should an adviser offer an opinion divergent from Kim Jong-il’s, the person was automatically suspected of disloyalty and often killed. He ran a group of gulag-style prisons and camps populated by well over 100,000 people – many of them Christians – where torture, deprivation, sexual abuse and executions reigned. His economic mismanagement and desire to remain independent of foreign influence during a prolonged famine cost an estimated 2-3 million North Koreans their lives. In his last year of his life, he headed the purging of 200 potential rivals to his designated successor.
Under Kim Jong-il, the spirituality of the dictator increased. He became “Dear Father,” a substitute for the Creator in the officially atheistic country. He then became “Eternal President” and was elected to other “forever” positions postmortem. The government-run Korean Central News Agency reported that during his death a fierce snowstorm "paused," "the sky glowed red above the sacred Mount Paektu," and a lake’s ice cracked loudly enough to seemingly "shake the heavens and the earth." The last may be a reference to the Bible’s Haggai 2:6, in which the Lord says, “Once more (it is a little while), I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land.”
Kim Jong-un, beneficiary of the murderous transition campaign initiated by his father, has continued the heinous legacy. He’s had his uncle killed and directed the assassination of his half-brother, who initially was eyed as the nation’s “supreme commander.” The former’s close relatives, including his children and grandchildren, were murdered as well to obliterate the uncle’s influence.
Despite such egregious behavior, North Korea’s official news agency calls Kim Jong-un “a great person born of heaven.” Choirs perform “songs of praise” to him. Nevertheless, he reportedly has great fear of assassination and constantly changes his schedule and transportation to keep supposed killers at bay.
God touched the Kim family, but their clinging to offenses, retribution, violence and power choked the Word’s seed so the fruit of the Spirit could not mature in them. They became tyrants desperate to control the lives of North Koreans, 25 million people in 2017 by the World Bank’s count. The Kims substituted terrorism for trust in the Lord, selfishness for seeking the best for others, fighting back for forgiveness and guarding themselves for godly devotion.
“My god is none other than the people,” Kim Il-sung said in 1969. “Only the popular masses are omniscient and omnipotent and almighty on earth. Therefore my lifetime motto is: ‘The people are my god.’"
If people are god to us, then we worship them. We do not adore them, but we make our every waking moment about pleasing, pacifying, manipulating or overpowering them. We worship them by allowing them to control us through our obsession with them. We may even start deifying ourselves as we put fallen humans in the place of the risen Lord.
We must not assume our children will follow God as we do. We should help them guard their hearts from the cares of the world and teach them our values and faith. We are coming upon “great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world” (Matthew 24:21), and if we fail with the coming generation, it may end up becoming Antichrist’s henchmen.
About the author: The Rev. Kyle Huckins, Ph.D., has an earned doctorate and taught both journalism and religious studies in universities, winning three honors for scholarly research on the intersection of faith and media.
He's won 25 awards for professional media writing and production in a career stretching back to the 1980s and covering every mass medium. For 20 years, he's worked in public relations and marketing with outstanding results in placing articles, generating click-throughs, growing social-platform accounts, and more.
Ordained in 2003, he's clergy and has served congregations and denominations in numerous positions of pastoral, administrative and educational leadership. He has a master's degree in theological studies from Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary. Click here for more on Huckins.
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