Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Grim Centennial

South Korean churches voice concern for North Korean Christians as they observed the centennial anniversary for Korea’s first mass spiritual revival, amidst circulating reports of torture, imprisonment and execution of Christians.

15,000 people gathered for the prayer-fasting rally staged at the Seoul Olympic Gymnastic Stadium to commemorate the 1907 revival that had started in the now-North Korean capitol, Pyongyang.

“The contrast between the spiritual climate in North Korea today and one hundred years ago could not be starker,” said Elizabeth Batha, international advocate for UK-based charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide, at the stadium on Monday.

“That Pyongyang has moved from being a city known throughout the Christian world as ‘the Jerusalem of the East’ to now being the capital of probably the most brutal suppressor of Christianity is chilling.” [...]

North Korean officials continue to maintain that citizens enjoy religious freedom, citing the presence of a Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox church in Pyongyang.

Religious liberties advocates, however, claim the three churches are manned by actors and open to foreign observers only.

One of the cultural puzzles of Asia is why Christianity blossomed in Korea, but withered in Japan. You've just gotta hope that the underground Christians in North Korea can endure until their evil masters' rule comes to an end.

That last bit about about the Nork's churches being Potemkin jobs, manned by actors, is reminiscent of a scene in the book Utopias Elsewhere (too lazy to look up the author, sorry). A big shiny department store in Pyongyang is on the tourism itinerary. But when the author looks closely, he sees that the people going in and out are only going in and out. The people riding the escalators are only riding the escalators. And the people standing at the counters are just standing there. It's all for show, for visiting Western progressives, a choreographed sham by those who wish to deceive, for those who wish to be deceived.

Remember that the next time you hear some International A.N.S.W.E.R types "waging peace" on behalf of the Nork regime.

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