Articles with Missionary Theme

Related topic: Korean Studies--Christian mission, Korean history, North Korea

Dae Ryeong Kim's SEMI articles published at Fuller Seminary


    One of the top stories in the world news for 1998 was that Chung Ju-yung, the founder of the Hyundai group, who fled to south with just one cattle sixty-five years ago, returned to North Korea across the heavily armed border in June 16, bringing 500 head of cattle as a gift. The message being communicated by this human drama is that the two Koreas, North and South, have a family-tie no matter what the political reality.

    In the international community North Korea is often described as a troublemaker of peace, a land with food shortage, and a country with one of the most unreached populations in the world. But I wonder if these are complete portraits of North Korea. The rest of the picture is that North Korea is a nation with hope for the jubilee year, a land blessed with the most beautiful scenery and rich natural resources, and a country whose capital city was once called “the Oriental Jerusalem.

    My early spiritual formation is much associated with my love toward North Korea. When I was a soldier, I would pray one hour every evening for that nation against whose attempt I was in duty bound to bear arms. I was not alone in this prayer movement. I saw and heard thousand of my fellow Korean Christians praying for North Korea early in the cold morning, all night on the cold floor, and sometimes during their fasting. This prayer they have been continuing for fifty years! I am often amazed by the intensity of this prayer movement.

    If we could visit North Korea in the first half of the century, we would find a land that was not spiritually barren, but futile. Christianity was so flourishing in the country that its capital city Pyongyang had won a reputation as the “Oriental Jerusalem" within a few decades of the arrival of the first Protestant missionaries. Before the division of the Korean peninsula in 1945, two thirds of Korean Christians were northerners. Their churches numbered 2,934.

    It was in 1949 that the new Communist regime began to close churches by force in North Korea. The Korean War, which broke out in the following year marked the physical disappearance of the Christian churches in the land. Some churches still managed to survive without sanctuaries until 1958, when the remnant Christians of the underground church suffered martyrdom or banishment to concentration camps. Until 1980 it was generally believed that no church could survive under the circumstances, but then the existence of the underground church was exposed to the outside world.

    The first sign of hope for the suffering Church in North Korea was the Communist regime’s 1986 decision to allow the printing of the New Testament and hymnbooks. In 1988, the regime opened up two Christian church buildings—one Protestant and one Roman Catholic Church. The two notorious signs of hope in 1998 were that North Korea accepted a medical missionary from South Korea for the first time, and a church building project in Najin, a northeastern port city, provided by funds from South Korean churches.

    North Korea as a nation appears to be a prodigal child who was long left the Lord for historical materialism. But in our prayer we hope that her people will return in realization of their spiritual starvation, and we know the time is coming when, in a time of reconciliation, we will see them in their best robes, rings on their hands, and sandals on their feet. Indeed, now is a high time to declare the jubilee year for the suffering Church in North Korea.

© This is Kim, Dae Ryeong's article as first published by the SEMI on March 8, 1999. The SEMI is a weekly periodical for the Fuller community.  

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