South Korean Pastors Ohn and Lee Apprehended in China
These Men Need Your Prayer
For the sixteenth consecutive year, North Korea is ranked as the most oppressive place in the world for Christians. Number one on OpenDoors’ World Watch List.
In this totalitarian communist state, Christians are forced to hide their faith from government authorities, neighbors and often, even their own spouses and children…. Worship of the ruling Kim family is mandated for all citizens, and those who don’t comply (including Christians) are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed. Entire Christian families are imprisoned in hard labor camps, where unknown numbers die each year from torture, beatings, overexertion and starvation. Those who attempt to flee to South Korea through China risk execution or life imprisonment, and those who stay behind often fare no better….
North Koreans often attempt to escape their desperate circumstances by fleeing north into China, braving the waters of the Yalu River. Those discovered by Chinese authorities are returned to North Korea, where they face harsh treatment: life in a labor camp or summary execution.
Estimates claim that 1000 South Korean missionaries work in China, many of them forming a sort of “underground railroad” that aids North Korean refugees. In some cases, they help refugees move on to new lives in South Korea and other countries.
South Korean pastors Seong-Do Ohn and Byeong-Gi Lee were recently detained in northern China, accused of helping North Korean defectors leave China. One pastor was arrested with his wife and two children at an airport in the city of Qingdao. The other was arrested along with his wife at his hotel.
The family members were released after interrogation. The pastors are still in custody. According to the NGO Justice for North Korea, “The arrested pastors… insisted that they helped North Korean defectors as they were at risk of being repatriated.”
Please Pray for Seong-Do Ohn’s and Byeong-Gi Lee’s Release
North Korean women are easy prey for traffickers. Lured to China by promised jobs, many are often sold into brothels or forced marriages instead. One missionary who answered a heartfelt call to work with trafficked women spoke anonymously about her experience.
“Dealing with the women is hard…. They are still prisoners in a jail called ‘North Korean women.’ ”
She feels the reason for their brokenness is that they were raised in fear. “They go to pre-school at about five, but they are still forced to watch public executions. Sometimes friends or neighbors are murdered in front of them. Even when they are older and leave the country, they still experience fear….
“Most of them have been abused in North Korea and in China. They feel numb, not even feeling the hurt anymore. They grow up in severe poverty, always going hungry. All of them know what it is like to worry about every meal, to eat from the rubbish and beg for food….
“They had to idolise Kim Il-Sung [founder of modern North Korea and grandfather of current leader, Kim Jong-un]. He’s stuck in everyone’s soul. When people start believing in God, it’s difficult to replace this idol in their hearts.”
But in spite of the difficult work and perpetual fear of arrest, the missionary has no plans to give it up.
“Now I don’t have any fear of death,” she says. “I’m a single woman, and if it’s necessary I don’t mind dying for this cause.”
“After making it this far, Father, I’m certain that you’re with me and aiding my escape.”
– Korean Escapee Ae-Cha