North Korea’s Purgatory

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

The family was among the many that had, a generation earlier, relocated in Japan and become strong supporters there of Socialism, Communism, and North Korea . With the rise of Kim Il Sung, the family was enticed to come back to the fatherland and complete the reforms so badly needed there.

This very rich but very dedicated family moved back to a near hero’s welcome. But growing suspicions about their wealth and their connection to the traditional foe of Korea slowly led the family from fame to ghastly impoverishment. The entire family was arrested and a new life begun in one of Kim’s infamous reeducation centers.

How does one wind up in jail with all these credentials? To get to a North Korean Camp, one must be either “a land-holder, a capitalist, a U.S. or South Korean agent, a Christian, or members of purged Party circles deemed noxious to the state.” Division is made then between “redeemable” and “unredeemable” prisoners. Once classed unredeemable, life is over. Your only worth to the state is hard labor. You will be taken to work at secret sites since there is no hope of you taking those secrets anywhere but to the grave. You will work until you drop dead.

Redeemables, like the author of this book, have a chance. They are taught Kim propaganda. They are thoroughly redone in their thinking processes, and after a number of years, released to live their new life as a trusted member of society.

I present these horrid but true story to encourage you to pray for North Koreans, that in their distress they will call upon the Name of the Lord, and that in calling they will unleash the Power that no dynasty can withstand.

*The Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-Hwan

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