"Refugees International" went into Northeast China a few years back with the specific intent of finding and interviewing refugees coming out of North Korea. Their stories lack the earmarks of what we would call "great" storytelling. Deliberately. It was their purpose just to take the facts down and pass them on to the West. Following, in my own words, is the true story I gleaned from one of these interviews. Following the "lackluster" style of reporting used by Refugees International, I simply call these 2 persons "a man and a woman", knowing that the facts themselves will stir hearts.
The story I tell, by the way, is shared for the sole purpose of motivating praying people to do what they do best.
The "man" was in the North Korean army, and was discharged in 1997. When he went home he found there were no jobs. He moved to Musan, in northeast North Korea, heard of the flow of refugees into China, and joined it. In 3 months he was caught and sent back. Ten days in a Chongjin prison. Escape. Back to China. 'Tis a familiar tale, though not as often considered to be a part of the "protected" military's existence.
1998. Chinese crackdown on North Korean refugees forces him to move to isolation in the mountains.
"The woman," also North Korean, comes to China in 2001 with an uncle who promises to find her a husband. The man and the woman are introduced one day. Married the next. She joins him in his mountain hideaways.
August, 2002. Husband is in a nearby village obtaining food when he is arrested by Chinese police and once more sent back to North Korea, without his wife. The wife is afraid and asks permission to live in the house of the manager of the shelter where they have been staying. Permission granted, but someone reports her, she is arrested and likewise deported. It is October.
In prison she gives birth. Her hometown people hear of her ordeal and bribe officers to release her.
One positive note. There are so many prisoners this second time around for the man, that he reports things have lightened up. There simply are not enough enforcers to make life miserable for everyone. The "light" version is a cell 5 square meters. Containing 40 people. They kneel and cannot move. They must sleep in that position.
His wife even gave birth in that position.
We cannot imagine what the more difficult version was like.
The man wants to go to South Korea, he tells the interviewer. But he knows it will be very hard. He says that people who try to go to South Korea are sent somewhere else and they are killed. He says that the first question they ask you when you are deported to North Korea is, "Have you been to church?" Those that say "Yes" will be killed right away or sent to a prison camp for life.
What is his plan now? He says, "Surviving day by day."
These things are difficult for us to hear. All we can do is keep listening to what the Spirit is saying to the Church. For God has a plan too. It seems He is unconcerned, un-moved. But in all things He will be glorified somehow. We know for sure that we must pray. Others will want to find ways to share materially or even go. But let us do something!
http://chosunhouse.com is a website I put together a few months back to get the word out to believers that they need to pray for North Korea. Just about every day I'm writing a blog featuring some news, a book, or a story of North Korea. There's a live news feed on the site, lists of resources, picture essays, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together!
And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Who are you? Would love to fellowship with believers who respond on my site.Hope In Religion