Evangelical Christians Eye North Korea
Posted on January 17th, 2013

Unethical Conversions

Despite the perception of North Korea as a country hermetically sealed to the outside “”‚ and despite the very real risks “”‚ dozens, if not hundreds, of Christian missionaries operate inside the country, sometimes living there for months at a stretch, in the capital, Pyongyang, or in the Rason region, near the country’s Chinese border. Some run factories, distributing bread and soy milk to the poor. Others work for NGOs or universities, like the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, North Korea’s first privately funded university (launched in 2010), which is bankrolled mostly by evangelical Christian movements.

Of the five NGOs that formed the consortium that the U.S. government worked with to deliver food aid to North Korea until 2009, four are evangelical Christian organizations. One of them, World Vision, only hires candidates who believe in Jesus. Heidi Linton runs Christian Friends of Korea, an organization that has sent more than $55 million dollars in food, supplies, and medical equipment throughout the country since 1995. Linton explains to North Korean patients and hospital staff that the donors give out of their love for God. “You don’t go into a lot of detail at that point, but we love because God first loved us,” says Linton. “No, we cannot give Bibles, we cannot give tracts, but we can live out for them what it means to be a Christian.” Asked how many people have been converted, she demurs: “We plant the seed and God brings in the harvest, in his time and in his way.”

So how do you bring the morals and values of Christianity to the world’s most closed country? With infinite patience. A missionary from the United States with almost 20 years of experience working with North Korea explains: “We’re not allowed to visibly pray. You can’t bow your head, and you can’t close your eyes. But when you’re praying you’re talking to God,” she says. “All the education we’re giving them is designed to make them think the truth “”‚ of all sorts.” Linton brought four ambulances into North Korea emblazoned with the Christian Friends of Korea logo, which includes a prominent cross. “They’ve told us multiple times that we need to change our name and our logo,” she says. “And we said, ‘No, that’s why we’re here.'” Proselytizing inside North Korea “has to be done almost exclusively in a one-on-one setting, where you talk to someone, typically someone you know very well, about faith,” says Todd Nettleton, director of media development at Voice of the Martyrs USA, who says that the organization and its partners dropped 1,467,600 Gospel fliers via balloons into North Korea in 2011.



2 Responses to “Evangelical Christians Eye North Korea”

  1. Nimal Says:

    Evangelists are well established in South Korea for decades and some of it members are high ranking business leaders and they seem to volunteer their free time spread their faith in overseas countries where they work.I have met them in Kandy.They hire a church,get together and sing their hearts out though the local parishioners are allowed to participate.In Sri Lanka they too sang internationally known hymns in Sinhalese.During their three days stay in Kandy they never attempted to recruit our people,Some of the young seems to have lived here in SL over a decade as thgeir parents seems to be working for big companies.Sri Lanka.We seems to have good relations with south Korea as they allow poor people from villages to go there to work,when I went to Colombo immigration to renew my passport I had to wait till 10PM to get it as that office was working full time issuing passports for our people to go there.So please don’t annoy that country bringing a religious issue against them.First of all we must make the so called buddhists in our countries true followers of that noble religion which we are not.Just as the Jihadist and Taliban we have used our religion to abuse people and shows little tolaransce and respect for others.One must go and live and work there.One would find with horror how dishonest,lazy and intolarant people are.We need a religion badly in our island to rehabilitate preople from bottom to top.So why worry anbout what one part of Korea do to another.Sort out our own mess in the island I say.

  2. Voice123 Says:

    Genuine Buddhists the world over do not obsess over evangelical Christians or feel threatened by them. Hindus do because Hinduism links race, tradition, culture, lifestyle and religion. Genuine Buddhism does not. Genuine Buddhism is for all humankind. This has lead to Sinhalese-Buddhists being viewed as “Hindus in Buddhists clothing”. Sinhalese Buddhists are the only group in the world that links Buddhism to race. It is a shameful thing too do this and even the Buddha would have spoken against this. Even among the Sinhalese Buddhists, the most vocal about Buddhism seem to be venemous against those who arent nominally Buddhist and always bitter about some “past injustices”, most of which were done with the connivance of Sinhala Buddhists anyway. Again genuine Buddhisms frowns on anger, jealousy and hatred as unwholesome. Also, Sinhalese Buddhists are among the least altruistic of Buddhists groups in the world. If there were more Buddhist charities, there would be less room for NGOs and foreign Christian charities to creep in. Again, Sinhala Buddhists resemble more closely Indian Hindus than genuine Buddhists. The icing on the cake – the caste system. No other Buddhist society in the world has a caste system. And dont say it doesnt exist. We all know it exists and goes beyond the marriage market. Higher castes call themselves higher class, look down on lower class and deny them opportunities. Time we faced up to these facts. We should develop closer ties with traditional Buddhist societies like Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and other parts of East Asia and learn how they actually practice Buddhism without the negative trappings of Hinduism. This Buddhists running solely to India for cultural revival has opened the door for the negative aspects of Hinduism to enter by stealth. There are positive aspects of Hinduism but the cultural revivalists seem to be hell bent on importing only the negative and intolerant aspects of Hinduism under the guise of Buddhism for the Sinhala people. Please wake up before its too late. Genuine Buddhists the world over dont obsess about evangelical Christianity. Even after decades of penetration into Korea and Japan, Evangelical Christianity does not threaten their traditional religious and traditions such as Shinto and Buddhism. This is just a political stunt. It will only end up in a scramble to be the most extremist and the most intolerant and we will end up like a Buddhist version of the Middle East. With attitudes such as this, Sri Lanka can never aspire to be a centre of Buddhism in the world which is a shame because it has one of the longest standing Buddhist traditions in the world.

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