Inside the Shadows

December 10, 2006

Friday night I watched the ABC special titled North Korea: Inside the Shadows . This was the story of Diane Sawyer’s visit to North Korea. It is not often that an American reporter is permitted to enter that country with a camera crew to produce a documentary. The visitors were carefully managed by “minders” or “handlers” who controlled what they were allowed to see and to film. Even so, the story that was shown was of an other-worldly cult nation in which the government controls every aspect of life and indoctrinates the people with the government-approved point of view on virtually every topic (even including government sanctioned hair styles!)

The most interesting thing about the show to me was the state of Christianity in North Korea. There is a government-sanctioned church. The pastor of one congregation was interviewed briefly. He sang a short bit of Jesus Loves Me in Korean. The show left the impression that the people are free to practice Christianity in North Korea.

Other sources suggest otherwise. For example, the World Net Daily recently reported:

There are estimates of tens thousands of Christians detained in prison camps [in North Korea] just for their faith. Sometimes entire families are imprisoned because of a statement from just one member, reports said.

Roli knows the risks are high: four of her Christian friends so far have been executed because of their witness. She was arrested herself, and has spent time in those prison camps.

When we think of the kind of persecution faced by believers in North Korea today, it puts into perspective the petty things about which we tend to quarrel, in our world of religious freedom. I doubt the North Korean Christians are very concerned about the instrumental music debate, or the number of cups to be used in communion. I doubt they are quarrelling among themselves about such doctrinal controversies. Their energies must be focused on the real enemy.


  1. How much different is some phoney minister trotted out by totalitarian regime and a culture where the only spiritual content in public life is a moment of silence? The point is that government is the enemy of religion, since its goal is to be the recipient of doglike devotion. My new website Christiandhimmi.com will be up soon. There I hope to highlight the second class citizenship for which Christians are headed in the great democracy.

  2. Hi manager,I much prefer a culture where the government does not presume to decide which religion is “sanctioned.” I don’t want school teachers leading their classes prayer to whatever deity they see fit. It is better if they stay out of that IMO. They are not very likely to “get it right”.Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Persecution and hardship tend to narrow one’s focus on what is important – theology (who is God?) and salvation doctrine. The first century writings against heresies primarily dealt with these two subjects. Beyond the two primary issues above, we are discussing opinions and not convictions. Sincerely, Phil SpadaroRestorationUnity.com

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