North Korea released a propaganda video telling its citizens that Christians are spies and are enemies of the state.
The video, obtained by Christian NGO, Voice of the Martyrs, showed the story of Cha Deoksun, a female Christian evangelist. A survivor of the Great Famine in the 1990s, Cha went to China illegally where she learned about Jesus Christ, reports International Christian Concern.
I wanted to build my church and sing out as loud as I could. —North Korean defector
Cha Deoksun wanted to share the Good News with fellow Koreans that she went back to the hermit country. She established an underground church and was able to create a network since the government allowed her to travel to make ends meet. She reconnected with the families of Korean Christians and gave money to impoverished people.
The video accused Cha Deoksun of recruiting other spies during her trips. It claimed that the weekly Sunday worship where people pray, study the Bible and sing hymns was just a front for Cha’s espionage.
In the latter part of the video, it said “a good and awakened North Korean citizen” reported Cha Deoksun to the government. What happened to her next remains a mystery, but VOM believes that she was either killed by firing squad or died in a gulag.
Since 2001, North Korea remains the number 1 country where it is dangerous to be a Christian. Believers are forced to practice their faith in hiding because of how the government treats Christians.
Kwak Jeong-ae, 65, a defector, told the story of a fellow inmate who insisted on using her Christian name, Sarah, during questioning in 2004, reports South China Morning Post.
“She persisted in saying, ‘My name is Hyun Sarah; it’s the name that God and my church have given to me’,” Kwak said. “She told [the interrogators], ‘I’m a child of God and I’m not scared to die. So if you want to kill me, go ahead and kill me.'”
Kwak said Sarah was frequently beaten during interrogation until guards took her away for good. Sarah’s was not an isolated case in North Korea. If caught, Christians have to face such brutal treatment from their own government.
According to defectors, underground Christians do not evangelize or try to recruit other Koreans to convert to Christianity in public. Instead, most of them keep their faith as a secret even to their relatives while others were blessed to have converted a few family members.
One woman, who wanted to be identified as H.Y., disclosed that she converted about 10 relatives and neighbors before defecting to the South. “I wanted to build my church and sing out as loud as I could,” she said. She is now a pastor in Seoul.
H.Y. said she remains in contact with the underground church she established in North Korea. She sends money through brokers to maintain the church’s operation.