Most of my posts are intended to highlight the good and encouraging aspects of life because the news media usually more than adequately covers all the sensational and horrendous events. However, some crimes against humanity garner precious little attention. The persecution of Christians worldwide is virtually ignored by the press, although it’s reported to be worse than at any time in history. The persecution of the Jewish people has continued largely unabated for centuries. As a believer, I long to see the end of religious persecution, but Christ warned us that “all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:2). To some extent, persecution in most countries comes from not fitting in to the cultural norms. On the other hand, the repressive government in North Korea for the past 65 years is a nationwide persecution of anyone who dares to disagree with the government, and it seems to me that the global community ought to do everything morally legitimate to pressure the Kim family to release their iron grip on the North Koreans so that it is no longer a crime to leave. In Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad, Wall Street Journalist Melanie Kirkpatrick unmasks some of the horrors of the North Korean government, offering compelling arguments for Americans and other free people to help refugees from North Korea who need asylum. Melanie tells the stories of many desperate and courageous people who have fled to avoid starvation, only to be captured in China and repatriated to North Korea, where most are incarcerated, abused, and not infrequently tortured and killed for their “disloyalty.” Melanie makes an unassailable case for why the underground railroad is a noble and humanitarian cause, every bit as frightening but necessary as the underground railroad that helped African Americans find freedom and safety in America during the 1800’s. There are many organizations that help, but they need to gain governmental legitimacy. Their point is that “Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live.” What can we do? Be aware. Pray for the “bamboo curtain” to come down. Be sympathetic. How would you like to live in a country with no freedom of press, speech, or ideas? Without the ability to tune in to anything but government radio. No freedom to call or visit friends or family outside the country. No googling to find information, no email, no photo sharing, no social networking. No freedom to exercise freedom of religion. As a pianist, no freedom to choose the music you play; as a ballerina, no choice in what or where you perform. Furthermore, no freedom to leave and seek a better life elsewhere. How happy would we be if we were all forced to be puppets who lived only to serve the interests of a selfish king? (Notice how brilliantly lit South Korea is, and how dark North Korea is!)
Beyond being aware, prayerful, and sympathetic, those who are passionate can find other ways of helping through such organizations as:
Committee for Human Rights in North Korea http://hrnk.org/
Crossing Borders http://crossingbordersnk.org
Helping Hands Korea http://www.helpinghandskorea.org
Korean Church Coalition http://www.kccnk.org
Liberty in North Korea http://wwwlinkglobal.org
The hope of those who are actively trying to help is that some day there will be a reunification of Korea under a democratic government, where people are allowed the basic freedoms enjoyed by most people in nations around the world. The greatest need? The free flow of information from the outside for those who are within North Korea, and compassionate aid for refugees who are trying to escape. The complete abolition of slavery won’t occur until Jesus reigns, but we can fight for it every day of our lives, starting in our own hearts and then reaching out to help those around us.