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Praying for North Korea

by Gerry Lynch last modified 05 Mar, 2018 07:13 PM

Worshippers undeterred at height of snowstorm to pray for those living under the world's most repressive régime

Praying for North Korea

Lighting candles of hope for North Korea at the special Choral Evensong on 1 March

Worshippers braved the ‘Beast from the East’ snowstorm at its height to pray for North Korea at a special Choral Evensong in Salisbury Cathedral on Thursday.

Tony Miller, a worshipper at St Thomas’ Church in Salisbury and longstanding active member of Amnesty International’s Salisbury group organised the service.

“We wanted to make people aware of the terrible plight of North Koreans, especially those in the concentration camps”, said Tony, “Some of these are virtually impossible to escape from, and sometimes people are born and die in the same camp, never leaving for their whole lives.

“People ask what they can do, when none of the normal means of lobbying and pressure work with the government in Pyongyang. Christians in North Korea want us to pray, and that only prayer can affect a shift in the hearts of their rulers.

“People can also give money and time as volunteers to agencies which work to provide the means of escape, help those who have escaped rebuild their lives, and make the world aware of the situation in North Korea.” [Details below.]

The Revd Canon Ian Woodward, Vicar of the Close at Salisbury Cathedral, who led the service, said, “We were very pleased to host this service, praying for and raising awareness of this often forgotten issue.

“Salisbury Cathedral has good and longstanding links with Amnesty. Every month, we pray for a prisoner of conscience, who will be prayed for every day in the Cathedral. Of course the Trinity Chapel has both the Prisoners of Conscience window and a candle in the form of Amnesty’s symbol, an evocative twisted spiral of barbed wire, which burns every day for those who are mistreated because of their opinions.”

The situation in North Korea is grave. UN’s 2014 Commission of Inquiry said, “The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the modern world.”

Christians are often singled out for particularly bad treatment. The Christian religious freedom charity Open Doors ranks North Korea as the most dangerous place in the world to be Christian, comparing their persecution to the worst excesses of Nazism and Stalinism. 

The concentration camp survivor Lee Soon-Ok wrote about Christians in the camps, “They received less food and were punished harder than others. Once or twice a month all the 6,000 prisoners needed to gather on a Saturday and Sunday and one or two Christians were publicly asked to denounced their faith. If not, they were beaten or stabbed with a sharp bamboo stick. I was amazed the Christians chose to suffer and did not betray their God. Often they just sang songs or said ‘Amen.’ The guards became furious and frequently killed Christians. If a guard managed to get a Christian to denounce God, he or she would receive a promotion. Sometimes we had to walk over the Christian until he died.”

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