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Thousands of North Koreans Escape Using Underground Christian Network Spanning Across China

Thousands of North Koreans Escape Using Underground Christian Network Spanning Across China

North Koreans undertake 3000-mile perilous journey into freedom

Thousands of North Koreans are fleeing the Communist prison state thanks to an underground Christian network spread across China, reports the British newspaper Daily Express. The 3000-mile long network, run by South Korean and Chinese Christians, also dubbed as the ‘underground railroad’, helps dissidents from the north to escape to freedom into Thailand. Many of these escapees later find a new home in South Korea.

Preaching or practicing Christianity could land North Koreans in labour camps. For those condemned, this often means a painful death through harsh labour. Worship of the ruling Kim family is the sole religion mandated by the state. The country still operates under the rule of its long-dead former leader and state’s founder Kim Il-sung, making North Korea a Communist Necrocracy.

Kim Il-sung was a small-time agitator living in Russian exile in the mid-1940s, when Stalin’s chief henchman Lavrentiy Beria hand-picked him to run the Soviet-occupied Korea. Kim Il-sung soon outgrew his Soviet-made jackboots and declared himself “God and creator” — no pun intended. What might sound hilarious or bizarre to an outsider, is no laughing matter for the millions of subjects living inside the Communist prison state for more than seven decades.

After his death in 1994, Kim Il-sung was declared the country’s “Eternal Leader”. The regime is currently run by his grandson Kim Jong-un, who likes to be called the “Supreme Leader”.

There are an estimated 300,000 Christians still inside North Korea, constituting nearly one percent of the entire 25 million population. Neighbouring China is seeing a remarkable revival of Christianity, with the number of practicing Christians expected to exceed 240 million by 2030 — despite Communist repression.

UK’s Daily Express writes:

Thousands of North Koreans are illegally slipping into Thailand through an underground Christian network. (..)

Despite the vast distance from North Korea, Thailand is in fact one of the closest reachable nations where North Koreans can expect government help to reach South Korea – the hermit nation’s estranged sibling.

The ‘North Korea-to-Thailand’ route has seen a surge in new travellers, according to data seen by Reuters.

The news agency reports that 385 North Koreans were processed as unauthorised entrants in Thailand in the first six months of 2017.

If the influx continues, Thailand can expect to see almost 800 North Korean entrants by the end of the year.

Open Doors, a charity serving persecuted Christians worldwide, ranks North Korea “as the most oppressive place in the world for Christians.” The organisation’s annual fact-sheet on North Korea says:

In this totalitarian communist state, Christians are forced to hide their faith completely from government authorities, neighbors and often, even their own spouses and children. Due to ever-present surveillance, many pray with eyes open, and gathering for praise or fellowship is practically impossible. Worship of the ruling Kim family is mandated for all citizens, and those who don’t comply (including Christians) are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed. Entire Christian families are imprisoned in hard labor camps, where unknown numbers die each year from torture, beatings, overexertion and starvation. Those who attempt to flee to South Korea through China risk execution or life imprisonment, and those who stay behind often fare no better.

The brave North Korean men and women undertaking the arduous and dangerous journey, sustained often by very little than the sheer power of their faith, have a message for those of us living their complacent lives in safety and freedom. Their pursuit urges us to recognise the real evil in our times and cherish the goodness in our lives.

May we defend our liberty and theirs.

[Cover image via YouTube]


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DieJustAsHappy | August 9, 2017 at 1:55 pm

The vid “The World’s Most Persecuted Minority: Christians” tells us the what and where of what is happening. “Stories of Christian Persecution” puts a human face, especially through the story of Hea Woo, on the oppression and persecution, the imprisonment, brutality and torture, and the deaths of those who remain faithful to their faith.

Generally, it seems that where persons are in such circumstance Christianity if growing. However, those nations once a bedrock of faith which have grown comfortable and indifferent it is in decline, being overtaken by what it hostile and alien to their religious heritage.

Our prayers for Hea Woo and those like her, for those aiding in escape from evil lands, and for a spiritual awakening for those who have become lukewarm in the faith.

Should we be talking about this.

inspectorudy | August 9, 2017 at 2:04 pm

As much as I understand these peoples desire to escape the nightmare that they live in, they are creating the same environment that was created in Cuba when all of the intelligentsia and wealth left to avoid Castro’s slaughter. By doing so Castro was left with the peasant population that was much more docile than it would have been if those who fled had stayed. That allowed a monster to remain in power for over 50 years. To get a regime change, there has to be a leader to foment the change. I’m afraid that most of them have left NK or about to.

    DieJustAsHappy in reply to inspectorudy. | August 9, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    The article notes that many of the escapees make their way from Thailand to South Korea. I wonder if, should there be a favorable change in North Korea, they might not be more than glad to return home and hope forge a new future for their land.

    stevewhitemd in reply to inspectorudy. | August 9, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    Easy to say when it’s not your life, or the lives of your family, on the line.

    When it is on the line, the rubber boat across the Florida Strait, or the perilous journey across the Yalu and thence to Thailand, starts to look to be the least-worst option.

    Thank God I’ve not been put in that situation. I don’t think I’d be very brave.

      inspectorudy in reply to stevewhitemd. | August 10, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Steve, I’m glad you weren’t around in 1776 either. Talk about risking their lives! The Brits would march into a town and steal anything they wanted including your prettiest daughters. If you resisted they would kill you. But you know what? They didn’t all get into boats and row to Cuba or sneak off to Canada! They stood and formed the Continental Army and defeated the British, the worlds largest military at that time! You are right that it would be terrifying and scary but that is what our founding fathers were made of. Not many of that kind left today.

        Arminius in reply to inspectorudy. | August 10, 2017 at 11:26 pm

        Things have changed a tad since 1776 in terms of technology and weaponry. In terms of being able to control a population. Dictators have had just short of 250 years to study the mistakes that allowed us to escape the British monarch’s grasp.

        In case you haven’t noticed, and it is obvious you haven’t.

        Don’t compare our historical experience to what the North Koreans are going through today.

Paul In Sweden | August 9, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Twenty years ago, I half joked about the growth of Christianity in Chine, referenced Charlie Soon being educated in the west and aided by western Christian missionaries and how I would not be surprised if we found Chinese missionaries coming to America or Europe trying to spread the Gospel which is somewhat faded these days.

    DieJustAsHappy in reply to Paul In Sweden. | August 9, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    There are missionaries who have come to the U.S. from Africa. There are some Christian congregations of Koreans here. As far as missionaries from Asia, I have no knowledge of any, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there are.

Davod asks a very good question: should we be talking about this? Well, not “we”, since it’s already out there, and if the North Koreans don’t already know about it they won’t learn it from this blog. But the Daily Express should have kept shtum, as should whoever blabbed to them. The Chinese government was surely aware of this network and chose to let it operate, but the new publicity may force it to crack down.

I remember when the obscure Israeli magazine Nekuda broke the story of the Ethiopian Jews coming to Israel. At that point the program had been operating for about five years on the QT — even I had heard about it, but officially it didn’t exist and the world media either didn’t know or pretended not to know, which meant the Ethiopian government could pretend not to know either and let it go on. But once Nekuda published it, every media outlet in the world mentioned it, the Ethiopians pretended to be shocked, shocked, and they announced they were putting an end to it. Israel was forced to scramble to organize an emergency airlift (“Operation Solomon”), bribe the Ethiopians to let it happen, and bring a lot of unwanted attention to the refugees.