The Experience of Growing up as a Christian in North Korea

A North Korean Christian Shared her Experience on Growing Up in Isolated Country
A Christian woman who fled North Korea has shared her experience of growing up in North Korea! The woman said that she was too frightened to even touch a Bible – but also admitted that Christianity is fast growing in the country despite the government’s brutal efforts to suppress it.
Growing up in the communist state – where Christianity is illegalized – Kim Sang-Hwa learnt very late that her parents were Christians.
“Like so many Christian families, our family was banished in the 1950s to a remote village,”
Sang-Hwa lived in a very small house with her parents so she slept with her parents in one room! But her parents had to hide their faith from the outside world, including their daughter. She remembers waking up one night when she was six and seeing both of her parents under the blanket and she could hear the soft noise of the radio. Later she would learn that her parents were listening to a broadcast from a Christian radio station.
On another occasion, Kim found a Bible hidden deep in a closet. Terrified, Kim contemplated turning her parents into the authorities; in the country, Christians are frequently sentenced to labor camps simply for owning a Bible.
“I was afraid to touch the Bible, but I couldn’t just leave it there,” she said. “I closed my eyes, picked up the book and put it back. I weighed my options. Should I tell my teacher? Should I visit the local security official? For fifteen days I couldn’t think about anything else. I knew it was my duty to report this illegal book. But it was my family which was involved. And I also had all these questions: ‘Who is this God? Or ‘what’?’
Finally, she asked her father about the ‘forbidden book.’
Her father was very surprised. “He asked me: ‘Do you see those old trees?’ I nodded. ‘Who made those?’ I said I didn’t know and he explained the story of creation to me, including how God had made Adam and Eve.”
After that, Kim’s mother also started teaching her how to memorize Bible verses and the Apostle’s Creed. Her father explained the full Gospel to her, and her grandfather taught her how to pray.
“It is just talking to God. Nothing more, nothing less,” his grandfather would tell her.
She found those stories and ideas were so interesting. She also started reading the Bible by herself. But she realized it was dangerous. Her father always cautioned her not to disclose the information about her faith with anyone else. But her father devoted much of his time praying for the country. However, the prayers were always in whispers, almost inaudible. ‘Father, help the North Korean people to seek your Kingdom first’.”
Sometimes, Kim’s father met people in secret locations, where they would pray together and discuss the Bible. When one of those visitors was dying, his father went to see him on his deathbed. To her father’s surprise, some of the people he visited confessed that they knew him, his family and faith. Some of them had been deployed as spy to watch him.
In one visit, a man he visited admitted, “You are a good man. I never told anyone you were a Christian. Tell me how I can become a Christian too.” In the final moments of his life, the man repented and became Christian with the help of Kim’s father.
After Kim got married, she and her husband worked to care for the homeless in North Korea – but life became increasingly more difficult. Out of every three people, at least one of them was a spy. Because of their wealth-which they obtained through her father’s profession and their relatives in China-they were labeled as ‘followers of capitalism.’ Afraid for their family’s safety they left their 2-year-old son with her parents and fled the country.
Today, Kim lives in South Korea with her family – but she hopes to one day return to her home country and share the Gospel. But the environment in North Korea is not just improving yet. Open Doors, an organization that works in the World’s most oppressive countries to empower Christians under persecution has ranked North Korea as the most oppressive place in the world for Christians. It is ranked #1 on the World Watch List. It’s estimated that between 30,000 and70,000 Christians are held in political labor camps.
Due to ever-present government surveillance, many Christians in North Korea pray with eyes open, and gathering for praise or fellowship is practically impossible. Worse still, worship of Kim Jong-Un’s family is mandatory for all citizens including Christians.  Those who don’t comply are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed. The government is determined to do everything to stop the spread of the gospel. In fact, the government has formed set up a “façade” organization with the name ‘Korea Christian Association’ to lure unsuspecting believers!

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