North Korea Purgatory

About thirty years ago, a 10-year-old boy entered a North Korean labor camp with his family. He lived to tell it, the first story of its kind*:

The family was among the many who, a generation earlier, had moved to Japan and there became staunch supporters of socialism, communism, and North Korea. With the rise of Kim Il Sung, the family was tempted to return to the motherland and complete much-needed reforms there.

This very wealthy but very dedicated family returned to the welcome of a near hero. But growing suspicions about his wealth and his connection to Korea’s traditional enemy slowly drove the fame family to gruesome impoverishment. The entire family was arrested and started a new life in one of Kim’s infamous re-education centers.

How does one end up in jail with all these credentials? To reach a North Korean camp, one must be “a landowner, capitalist, American or South Korean agent, Christian, or a member of purged Party circles deemed harmful to the state.” The division is then made between “redeemable” and “irredeemable” prisoners. Once classified as irredeemable, life is over. Your only value to the state is hard work. You will be taken to work in secret places as there is no hope of you taking those secrets anywhere other than the grave. You will work until you drop dead.

Redeemables, like the author of this book, have a chance. They are shown Kim’s propaganda. Their thought processes are completely revamped, and after several years, they are freed to live their new life as a trusted member of society.

I present to you this horrible but true story to encourage you to pray for the North Koreans, that in their anguish they call on the Name of the Lord, and that in calling they unleash the Power that no dynasty can resist.

*The Pyongyang Aquariums by Kang Chol-Hwan

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