North Korea

Iraq and North Korea: The Lies We All Believe

Anti-aircraft rockets, Dejan Lazarevic / Shutterstock.com
Anti-aircraft rockets, Dejan Lazarevic / Shutterstock.com

Today, March 19, 2013, is the 10th anniversary of the “Shock and Awe” campaign that was intended to rid the world of the threat of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As it turned out, the threat was a lie. There was ample evidence at the time to prove that the WMDs didn’t really exist, but were manufactured in Saddam’s imagination for political gain.

So why did we fall so easily for this lie? Answers to this question often come via an analysis of the particulars of the Iraqi situation and include discourse about oil fields, geopolitical calculations, even psychological analysis of the relationship of Father and Son Bush. These are good discussions to have. We can learn a great deal from them about our thirst for security and insatiable appetite for oil, political power, and revenge.

VIDEO: Shifting the Conversation in North Korea

For decades, the totalitarian regime of North Korea has subjected its people to propaganda, intimidation, and starvation. None of this, however, will stop Steven Kim's work to support the people of North Korea.

A Relentless Faith,” by Sylvia Yu, in the April 2013 issue of Sojourners magazine, details how Kim endured imprisonment for his efforts to assist refugees from North Korea as they escape to China seeking a better life. His work sheds light on the human rights abuses in North Korea, which are rarely mentioned in the media.

Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), a U.S.-based organization, also seeks to shift the media’s attention away from the politics of North Korea to the stories of the people. The world needs to know the human rights violations occurring in North Korea.

Watch the video below to find out more about the people of North Korea. Read “A Relentless Faith” to understand their plight, and support LiNK in redefining the public’s perception of North Korea.


 

Elaina Ramsey is assistant editor of Sojourners magazine.

 

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A Relentless Faith

ON SEPT. 23, 2003, Steven Kim was arrested and later escorted into a detention center in northeastern China with bound hands and heavy chains on his feet. His crime? Helping undocumented migrants—North Korean refugees—in China.

After decades of famine, mismanagement of resources, and a severe state-controlled system, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea—more commonly known as North Korea—has evolved into one of the most secretive and isolated countries in the world. About 2 million people have died since the 1990s, and still the country cannot feed its people without foreign aid. This shortage of food has driven thousands of North Koreans to migrate illegally to China by crossing the Tumen River in search of food and respite from the totalitarian regime.

Before his imprisonment, Kim—a Korean-American businessman from Long Island, N.Y.—lived in China and operated a furniture business. As a non-denominational Christian, Kim became a member of an unregistered house church in Shenzhen, which operated outside the Chinese government's control. After meeting Tae Nam, a North Korean man, and hearing his desperate story firsthand at his house church, Kim was instantly drawn into the underground railroad of supporters of North Korean refugees.

AFTER SEVEN MONTHS at a detention center, Kim was sentenced to five years in prison, under Article 318 of the Chinese criminal code, for helping undocumented North Korean migrants and harboring them in his home.

"No one expected a long sentence for the first offense. That was the longest sentence ever given. I was so upset. I lost all my strength in my legs and almost collapsed in court. After two hours I recovered," Kim told Sojourners, describing the moment in court when the sentence was issued by the Chinese judge. "I realized I'll be in prison for five years. I have to make another plan. I thought I was going home [to America] and it could be very easy. But God had a different plan."

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Pacifism in the Scariest Place on Earth

Michelle Gilders / Getty Images
South Korea, Demilitarized Zone, Large DMZ sign at the Third Tunnel of Aggression site. Michelle Gilders / Getty Images

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) between the two Koreas along with a group of students and faculty from George Fox University. As the most fortified border on the entire planet, the DMZ contains an arsenal of tanks, land mines, watchtowers, razor wires, artillery, and nearly two million armed troops ready to face off within a moment’s notice. Former President Bill Clinton described the DMZ as the “scariest place on earth,” a description more eerie coming from one of the few people in history to have had direct access to the “button.”

While observing the various sites within the DMZ, I thought about how the pacifist Quakers, who founded my school in 1885, would have reacted to such an experience.

The Morning News: Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011

New Law Aims To Shine Light on Conflict Metals; Immigration Effort Mistakenly Holds U.S. Citizens; North Korea’s Persecution of Christians Expected to Continue After Kim Jon Il’s Death; Muslims push Lowe’s boycott over reality series; Two Muslim religious leaders sue airlines for discrimination; Christianity goes global as world’s largest religion; (Opinion) Obama’s simplistic view of income inequality.

The Morning News: Monday, Dec. 19, 2011

North Korean Leader’s Nukes, Threats Stoked World Fears; Extension of Tax Cut Stalls in House as GOP Objects; Christian Group Recalls Pink Bible; For Times Such As These: The Radical Christian Witness of the New Monastics; ‘People’s year’ gives hope that the tide is turning; Speaker targets immigration law; Vaclav Havel, Czech’s Velvet Revolution Leader, Dead at 75; Paul Leads Iowa, Gingrich drops to 3; Mitt Romney’s Dream World: Cutting Billions Out of Medicaid Will Not 'Hurt the Poor'.

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