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Christian women are ‘agents of resistance’ against North Korea’s Communist regime

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Christian women are acting as “agents of resistance” against the Communist regime in North Korea, according to a human rights organisation.

Korea Future launched its latest report, “Religious Women as Beacons of Resistance in North Korea”, on Thursday.

Using their membership of underground churches, Christian women are spreading the faith and challenging the regime, the report found.

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Through their networks on the margins of society, women who convert to Christianity “challenge the authority of the state’s control over women’s bodies and minds and empower other religious women to become agents of resistance”, it says.

One witness interviewed for the report said: “The underground church members in North Korea were believers who had converted in China.

“They already knew about Christianity, including hymns and the Bible.

“Most members were women who had been trafficked and sold into forced marriages with Chinese men and later escaped.”

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Korea Future investigators interviewed 237 survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators of religious persecution who fled the Marxist dictatorship into democratic South Korea.

They documented 140 cases of Christian women being imprisoned, 33 of torture, 11 of “refoulement” (Christian women being forcibly returned from China to North Korea), five of forced labour, and one case of sexual violence.

Christian women who are arrested experience “more egregious” violations of their human rights than followers of fortune-telling cult Shamanism, the report found.

The regime imprisons Christians in the more brutal “political camps” but tends to send the followers of other religions to less severe labour camps.

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The report says “the absolute denial” of the right to religious freedom forces many Christian women across the North Korean border into China.

“Engaging in illicit trade or employment, these women can receive support from ethnic-Korean churches or underground missionaries who provide religious literature, symbols and other forms of information about the religion.

“Upon their voluntary return or refoulement to North Korea, women who are suspected of adhering to Christianity fall under the surveillance of North Korea’s intelligence agency, the Ministry of State Security, which proactively gathers information on religious women, including those who cross into China, through a network of informants,” it says.

“Prevailing customary forms of gender-based violence, including torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, such as physical beating and verbal abuse, are magnified for women in detention due to their religious identity.”

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Religious women in North Korea also experience “entrenched patriarchal attitudes” in society, and can fall victim to both a culture of “violence against women in public and private life”, and “a government that has actively discriminated against women through policy and practice and persecuted religious adherents”.

Despite the oppression they experience, Korea Future says “religious women have begun to deploy their gender and religious identities as platforms for personal and local change beyond the limits of the state”.

“These actions come at great risk. We have documented the executions of women and girls who exercised their right to freedom of religion or belief,” the organisation said.

“In this context, it is remarkable that religious women have emerged as agents of change in North Korea.”

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Religion

Not Forsaken | Persecution

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01/24/2022 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Hanan was kicked out of her home in Egypt by an abusive husband, leaving the Christian mother of six without social status and sidelined as a religious minority and single woman. She unsuccessfully tried to get a divorce because of his abuse and infidelity, but had little support. For […]

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How to walk through disappointment

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There’s a popular nursery rhyme book for children called ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.‘ The story is about four children going on an adventure but as they embark the children are greeted along the way by obstacles in their path. They are determined that they are going on a bear hunt and that they are going to catch a big one!

Each obstacle they come up against no matter what it is they declare, “Oh well, we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we can’t go around it, we got to go through it!”

Many people say that you don’t remember events from when you were a young child. Scientists say that traumatic memories hide like a shadow in the brain but as our brain develops so does our memory and ability to remember those traumatic events.

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My very first memory was when I was a young child, going in for an MRI scan. I remember heading into the cold, dark tunnel with no light in sight, and having straps holding me down from every angle. You see when I was very young, meningococcal got into my blood stream and made home within my knee.

I say all of this to say growing up was challenging, as my knee was weak and joints would a few times a day cramp up, become stiff and sometimes even dislocate. I learnt quickly though that I had no choice but to stand up and to walk it out, to walk through the pain, I couldn’t go over it, I couldn’t go under it, I couldn’t even go around it, I had to go through it, I had to walk through the pain.

Isn’t that the same in our own lives? When the unexpected, the unknown, the uncomfortable arises – and it will; when disappointment arrives at your doorstep, and before you know it intense pain seeps through and harbours in your heart, how do you navigate that? How do you walk through it?

The word seep means to pass slowly through a small opening. Disappointment is described as a form of sadness. A deep empty feeling of loss, an uncomfortable space, a painful gap between our expectations and reality. Bitterness and hurt can reside out of disappointment and most of the time it unintentionally creeps in, it is unwanted and turbulent and it can feel at times like a stormy sea.

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I wish I could say I love the ocean; I love the idea of the ocean. I can’t deny though that there is something incredible and mesmerising about it. Although I am not an ocean genius, I do know a couple of things. I know that it’s one thing to drop anchor and it’s completely different to set anchor. Dropping anchor is simply hoping the anchor catches something of substance, setting anchor is intentionally placing the anchor so it grabs into the seabed and in doing so it secures the boat in place.

By doing this you are not at the mercy of the wind and seas but rather your heading is kept, and you don’t drift.

If we are not anchored and we allow matters to seep through in our relationship with God, in our family life, in our mental health, it becomes easy and effortless for disappointment to tiptoe in unnoticed and leave a trail of mess behind you.

In Bob Goff’s book Dream Big he says, “In God’s economy, nothing is ever wasted. Not our pain, nor our disappointments, nor our setbacks. These are tools that can be used later as a recipe for our best work. Quit throwing the ‘batter’ away.”

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God is the only one who has been in your tomorrow, He is the only one who knows what you need. Don’t allow disappointments, bitterness or hurt to reside in your heart so much that you throw the whole batter away.

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