On this National Day of Prayer, I'm burdened for the nation of North Korea. According to Voice of the Martyrs, North Korea's many concentration camps are estimated to currently hold 250,000 people, including 30,000 Christians. There is believed to be more imprisoned Christians here than any other nation combined. From insincere mourning of Kim Jong-il's death in December, to mentioning the name of Jesus, to not paying the required national taxes can all result in a citizen being placed in one of these death camps. According to VOM, "Family members of political prisoners within three generations are also sent to the camps to “root out class enemies,” in the words of Kim Jong-il."
There are six confirmed labor camps in North Korea:
Camp 14- Just 45 miles from Pyongyang, where only favored party members can live, Camp 14 is known as a "complete control district," meaning its 50,000 prisoners will work there until death.
Camp 15- Known as "Yodok," Camp 15 was described in the book Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Choi-Hwang, who was sent to the camp at age 9. About 50,000 people are imprisoned there.
Camp 16- This camp, located near a nuclear and missile testing site, is thought to be reserved for government officials and their families. No survivors have emerged from the camp of 10,000.
Camp 18- This camp of 50,000 is described as less brutal than Camp 14, which it adjoins. Still, those who attempt escape are hanged, and many die from malnutrition.
Camp 22- This camp near China's border is about the size of Los Angeles and holds about 50,000 prisoners. Some have asserted that the camp is used for human experiments.
Camp 25- An estimated 3,000 people are held in this camp, operated by the North Korean secret police. It is thought to be for felons, religious leaders, spies, and their families.
(Information taken from Voice of the Martyrs May 2012 newsletter. For more information on North Korean labor camps see: www.persecution.com/newsletter)
In 1948, with the communists taking control of North Korea, Kim Il Sung established a new, overarching philosophy called, "juche," a warped imitation of Christianity. A son of Christian parents and grandson of a Christian pastor, Kim Il Sung declared himself Supreme Leader and godhead, appointing his son Kim Jong-il, as the son of god. "He set himself up as god and put his son in the place of Jesus" (Steven Lear, Is God Dead in North Korea?"). When he took office, 300,000 Christians disappeared, 100,000 were relocated to labor camps, and almost all Christian ministers were murdered.
Familiar statements, twisted from the Bible, are taught to the youth today, including the "Ten Principles:" "I, Kim Il Sung, am the lord your god. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself any image in likeness of heaven or earth. You shall not bow down to any idol, for I am your god, Kim Il Sung." Citizens are still expected to worship Kim Il Sung and his son, now after both are dead. His grandson, Kim Jong Un, has succeeded as North Korea's new leader and, through plastic surgery, mannerisms, and clothing, is being made to replicate Kim Il Sung in appearance, hoping to continue the "juche" philosophy of his grandfather.
Please pray for the nation of North Korea, for the oppression of human rights to stop, for Christians to find strength and encouragement as they are brutally persecuted, for the Gospel to still be proclaimed in creative ways to this isolated country, for the rest of the world and church to not turn a blind eye to the accounts of cruelty that are coming out of this nation, for a revival of the true God in the hearts and minds of North Koreans.