North Korea Executes Eighty for Reading Bible
North Korea’s Surprising Christian Heritage and Destiny
Prophecy News Watch April 27, 2017
Many Christians would be surprised to learn that North Korea – the world’s undisputed top persecutor of its own Christian population – was once the center of sweeping revivals.
Even more surprising to many would be the fact that the ruling Kim dynasty came from a devout Christian family.
What went wrong and how can we pray for North Korea at this time of increasing tensions? Is there hope for the long oppressed people of North Korea?
Pyongyang – the Jerusalem of the East
The city of Pyongyang is today synonymous with the tyrannical nuclear-tipped regime of Kim Jong-Un. However if we were to wind back the clock 100 years, we would see a very different city.
After the first Presbyterian mission opened in Pyongyang in 1895, revival movements rapidly brought in many converts.
These waves of revival culminated in the ‘Great Pyongyang Revival’ of 1907 which spread out from the city and touched the whole nation of Korea.
The fruit of the revival was that by 1910, Pyongyang was the most Christianised area of Korea – boasting over 60’000 Christians in the Presbyterian Church alone!
Christian activity was such a prominent feature that postcards from those days featured pictures of Christian street evangelists in action rather than the more traditional postcard pictures of scenic sites.
By the time of the Communist take-over in 1948, there were 2000 churches throughout Korea and they were predominantly located in the North.
Pyongyang itself was known as a bustling head-quarter of missionary activity and was affectionately called the ‘Jerusalem of the East’.
The Christian Heritage of the Kim Dynasty
According to the outstanding book ‘Back to the Jerusalem of the East’ by Eugene Bach and Luther Martin, many of the original ruling elite of communist North Korea were in fact from Christian families or received a Christian education.
Even more startling is the fact that Kim Il-Sung – the founder and supreme leader of North Korea who ruled for 46 years – came from a devout Christian family.
According to Kim’s official biography, his grandfather was a minister and his parents served as elders in a Presbyterian church. The young Kim grew up in church, and it is even reported that he was an accomplished organist!
What went wrong?
How did Kim Il-Sung turn so radically against the Christian faith of his parents?
According to Bach and Martin, the young Kim observed with resentment the high living standards of the western missionaries while the average Korean struggled to put food on the table.
The apparent apathy of western missionaries to the Japanese invasion, and their possible ties with the wealthy and oppressive landlords were also issues triggering resentment.
Another pivotal event in Kim’s life was his family’s forced exile in China due to his father being blacklisted by the Japanese authorities. Sadly they were not safe in China either, and one day Japanese soldiers snatched Kim’s father.
Local Christians prayed fervently and passionately for his release, but he never returned. No doubt this event would have marked the young Kim and sown seeds in him leading to his complete rejection of Christianity.
Kim later became a rebel leader fighting against the Japanese, and was installed by the Russians as the leader of Korea after the defeat of the Japanese armies.
Pyongyang’s status as the Jerusalem of the East came to a close with the establishment of the ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’ under Kim Il-Sung in 1948 and the subsequent rapid closure and confiscation of church properties.
Kim Il-Sung’s repudiation of his Christian heritage and ruthless persecution of Christianity forms a horrific part of Korea’s history.
As his son and now grandson continue in his footsteps, millions of Koreans are suffering from Kim’s fateful decision to turn away from the God of his fathers.
Did Kim Il-Sung entirely forget his Christian heritage?
In Christian circles, bible study groups, worship songs and confession of sins are important in the development of strong committed disciples.
Even though Kim turned his back on Christianity, it appears that his regime chose to use surprisingly similar methods to unite the people around their ‘dear leader’.
These practices include regular breaks at work to study the writings of Kim Il-Sung in small groups, the singing of songs to the ‘dear leader’ and even the confession of ‘sins’ in weekly confessionals.
Perhaps some of these corrupted practices are the secret to the enduring strength of the North Korean dictatorship?
Furthermore, Kim Il-Sung is revered as a god, and his son as ‘the son of god’ – obscenely mirroring Christian theology. Founding father Kim Il Sung is even believed by many to be god in the flesh and the creator of the earth!
The words of North Korean blogger ‘Juche girl’ give insight into a Christ-like perception of their leader. She writes ‘Dear Leader can make the handicap walk and the blind to see’.
Sounds like a twisted version of a Sunday School song!
Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=1190#iqSQqi7yjm18IDty.99
Publisher’s note: Publishers note: “Because, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. V-22 – Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”