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Allison Althoff
Allison Althoff
Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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January 3, 2012

The Oppressed of North Korea

Here on earth we can trust that God is still bringing justice to his people.

Since the beginning of October, I’ve learned at least one new thing about Korean culture every day. You see, on October 1st, I moved in with my lovely friend, Anna, who is half-Korean. Anna's mom, Okkyong, moved to the States in her late teens. Because she wanted to pass her Korean heritage down to her children, Anna and her siblings spent a good portion of their childhoods attending Korean church, sitting in Korean Saturday school, and eating things like Kimchi and Bibimbap.

On top of my new found knowledge of Korean culture and cuisine, I've also had the privilege of getting to know Anna's mom. In truth, I've never met anyone like her before. Okkyong is selfless in ways I can’t fathom. Her relationship with the Lord is alive and strong. Okkyong takes care of her aging Korean mother, she works, and she volunteers with our church’s homeless ministry. This woman has gone through certain life tragedies that most would find paralyzing, but she puts her hope in the God. She embodies joy and hospitality toward others, and she has a freedom to laugh and enjoy her life, which challenges me in my own journey. She’s also really excited that I now love Korean food. Anna says that makes me an honorary daughter.

As I’ve become closer to Anna and her mom, I’ve also learned a lot about Korea’s political history. The suffering and brainwashing of the North Korean people is no longer something I think about in a “far off, just another bad thing in the world” kind of way. I now have beautiful Korean women in my life whose faces look just like the people who are starving to death 6,000 miles away. And that changes things. Under the communistic regime that has been in place in North Korea for the last 60 years, the living conditions continue to worsen.

This oppression has eternal consequences, as well. Faith in God isn’t allowed in North Korea. There are currently between 50,000-70,000 Christians being held in North Korean prison camps, being tortured for their beliefs. According to OpenDoors.com, North Korea has held the top spot for the worst treatment of Christians in the world for the last eight years. Any form of worship outside of worshiping the “Great Leader” ( the late Kim Jong-il, and now, Kim Jong-un) is seen as treason.

So when Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s angry, iron fisted dictator, died December 17, it caught my attention, and kept it. I came across this video of the people “mourning” the death of this “Great Leader”—the same man who made their lives a living hell for the past 17 years. What scares me the most is that I can’t tell if they are forcing themselves to cry, or if they are brainwashed enough to truly be in mourning.

Compliments of Associated Press

It’s horrifying.

Rumors are flying about Kim Jong-il’s son, Kim Jong-un, being even more ruthless in his ruling. He doesn’t have the training or the experience, so they expect him to be more extreme. As I look at the videos of the starving children, the mourning crowds, and the robotic motions of the people, I’m overwhelmed with sadness.

But as Anna and I have talked about their culture and the people of North Korea, God has reminded me that he is the God of the oppressed. He is the God that brings justice to his people; he is in control. As a matter of fact, he specializes in bringing justice to the crushed and the persecuted. Last night I thought back on all of the injustice that has taken place in our world over just the last 200 years—slavery, child soldiers, concentration camps—and how God has stepped in (in his perfect time), time and again, to bring victory to the oppressed.

I thought about the Israelites being held captive in Egypt, and wondered if they felt hopeless too. I wondered if they thought that their children’s children would be slaves. I wonder if they thought that God had abandoned them and couldn’t hear their cries.

In Psalm 103:6–7, David wrote these words to remember what God did for the Israelites, hundreds of years before his time: “The LORD gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly. He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel.”

Sometimes I forget that God hasn’t abandoned us on earth; his goodness and mercy extends to our time before we get to heaven. He is the God of the oppressed.

In talking about suffering in the world, David also wrote in Psalm 27:11–14:

“Teach me how to live, O LORD.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
“Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
“Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
“Wait patiently for the LORD.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.

My prayer for North Korea is that they will see the goodness of God in their land. I pray that he will bring them to himself as his children, and that he will set these captives free. Please join me in the coming months, and lift these sweet people up to the eyes of heaven. Our God is more than able. And we can have joy in that truth.

Related Tags: hope, North Korea, oppression, suffering


Amazing and very informative, as a spoiled American I don't know nearly enough about North Korea as I should!

...and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
Rev 6: 10
Thank you Ashley & Anna!

Thankyou Ashley. The same thoughts whirled through my mind when i saw the north Koreans wailing at the funeral - are they so conditioned by a self-centred despot, that they cry on cue and command ? out of fear because they have never tasted love and compassion freely given but by dictatorship ? We lift these people up to the Almighty who is sovereign, and we pray the walls that prevent others from coming into N Korea shall one day soon be torn down as did the Berlin Wall, as did China's and Russia's thawing, still proceeding.

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