THE BOMB ISN’T ENOUGH: North Korea Now Executing Its Own Christians (Jim Jacobson resides in Eastern Time.)
Playing the nuclear weapons card as defense against any American intervention in its “business” with other countries . . . Flying in the face of the international community by ratcheting up its missile testing . . . Threats of a long-range rocket reaching Hawaii on the 4th of July . . .
Underneath the radar of North Korea’s chest-puffing with the United States and its allies in the Pacific Rim these days is a tragic reality that Christian Freedom International (CFI) president Jim Jacobson witnesses every day—there, in North Korea and in nations around the world.
It is the persecution of Christians. And it has become an increasingly common—and ignored—practice globally, including in places like the Middle East, where Christianity is being purged from its own birthplace and, as evident this past week, in Pyongyang, a city once known as the “Jerusalem of the East” for its heavy Christian presence.
The story, as reported by the Associated Press, states that Ri Hyon Ok, a 33-year-old mother of three, was publicly executed in Pyongyang for distributing the Bible—a book currently banned under the Kim Jong Il regime. She was also allegedly accused of spying for South Korea and the U.S. but, as Jacobson can attest, the communist government laying these charges against a Christian is unwritten protocol.
For a deeper look at this wretched execution as part of a renewed Christian crackdown in North Korea, a breathtaking scope of Christian persecution around the world, and a saddening perspective on why it continues largely untold in the media and unspoken in our President’s political discourse, call Special Guests to arrange a discussion with a sobering expert, Jim Jacobson.
ABOUT YOUR SPEAKER
Before CFI, Mr. Jacobson served as a policy analyst in the Reagan White House, served as political appointee in the administration of George Herbert Walker Bush, and was a senior legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate. He was elected for a four-year term to the Warren County, Virginia, Board of Supervisors.
In his career he has testified before Congress, conducted briefings at the White House, State Department, and the United Nations. Jim has personally brought aid, smuggled Bibles, and provided advocacy to Christians in many countries in the past 10 years. He frequently travels into restricted countries—overtly and covertly—where Christians are severely persecuted for their faith, including active war zones.
Mr. Jacobson is a graduate of the University of Michigan. He and his wife Karen have four children and have been married for more than 20 years.
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE MAY BE USEFUL FOR SHOW PREP:
Activists: NKorean executed for distributing Bible
Jul 24 01:59 PM US/Eastern
By KWANG-TAE KIM
Associated Press Writer
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) —A Christian woman accused of distributing the Bible, a book banned in communist North Korea, was publicly executed last month for the crime, South Korean activists said Friday.
The 33-year-old mother of three, Ri Hyon Ok, also was accused of spying for South Korea and the United States, and of organizing dissidents, a rights group said in Seoul, citing documents obtained from the North.
The Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity report included a copy of Ri's government-issued photo ID and said her husband, children and parents were sent to a political prison the day after her June 16 execution.
The claim could not be independently verified Friday, and there has been no mention by the North's official Korean Central News Agency of her case.
But it would mark a harsh turn in the crackdown on religion in North Korea, a country where Christianity once flourished and where the capital, Pyongyang, was known as the “Jerusalem of the East” for the predominance of the Christian faith.
According to its constitution, North Korea guarantees freedom of religion. But in reality, the regime severely restricts religious observance, with the cult of personality created by national founder Kim Il Sung and enjoyed by his son, current leader Kim Jong Il, serving as a virtual state religion. Those who violate religious restrictions are often accused of crimes such as spying or anti-government activities.
The government has authorized four state churches: one Catholic, two Protestant and one Russian Orthodox. However, they cater to foreigners only, and ordinary North Koreans cannot attend the services.
Still, more than 30,000 North Koreans are believed to practice Christianity in hiding—at great personal risk, defectors and activists say.
The U.S. State Department said in a report last year that “genuine religious freedom does not exist” in North Korea.
“What religious practice or venues exist ... (are) tightly controlled and used to advance the government’s political or diplomatic agenda,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in a May report. “Other public and private religious activity is prohibited and anyone discovered engaging in clandestine religious practice faces official discrimination, arrest, imprisonment, and possibly execution.”
The report cited indications that the North Korean government had taken “new steps” to stop the clandestine spread of Christianity, particularly in areas near the border with China, including infiltrating underground churches and setting up fake prayer meetings as a trap for Christian converts.
Ri, the North Korean Christian, reportedly was executed in the northwestern city of Ryongchon—near the border with China.
“North Korea appears to have judged that Christian forces could pose a threat to its regime,” Do Hee-youn, a leading activist, told reporters Friday in Seoul.
The South Korean rights report also said North Korean security agents arrested and tortured another Christian, Seo Kum Ok, 30, near Ryongchon. She was accused of trying to spy on a nuclear site and hand the information over to South Korea and the United States.
It was unclear whether she survived, the report said. Her husband also was arrested and their two children have since disappeared, it said.
The U.S. government commission report cited defectors as saying an estimated 6,000 Christians are jailed in “Prison No. 15” in the north of the country, with religious prisoners facing worse treatment than other inmates.
In Seoul, the rights group said it would try to take North Korean leader Kim to the International Criminal Court over alleged crimes against humanity.
Activists say such alleged crimes—murder, kidnap, rape, extermination of individuals in prison camps—can’t take place in North Korea without Kim’s knowledge or direction since he wields absolute power over the population of 24 million.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved