The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Earth by Night

With news spreading of the possible disintegration of the North Korean regime, we can thank the Christians:
Word has spread like wildfire of the Christian underground that helps fugitives to reach South Korea. People who lived in silent fear now dare to speak about escape. The regime has almost given up trying to stop them going, although it can savagely punish those caught and sent back.
“Everybody knows there is a way out,” said a woman, who for obvious reasons cannot be identified but who spoke in front of several witnesses. “They know there is a Christian network to put them in contact with the underground, to break into embassies in Beijing or to get into Vietnam. They know, but you have to pay a lot of money to middlemen who have the Christian contacts.”
Her knowledge was remarkable. North Korean newspapers are stifled by state control. Televisions receive only one channel which is devoted to the Dear Leader’s deeds. Radios are fixed to a single frequency. For most citizens the internet is just a word. Yet North Koreans confirmed that they knew that escapers to China should look for buildings displaying a Christian cross and should ask among Korean speakers for people who knew the word of Jesus.

Douglas Shin, an American pastor, has been a leader for some time in helping North Koreans gain information about the world and escape from their Stalinist hellhole. His example and energy have made a vast difference to thousands; but more impressive still are the nameless Christians who have risked torture and death in the very jaws of the Dear Leader's machine.

In a view of Earth by night, South Korea shows about as brightly as Spain (though, to be fair, it is more densely populated). It looks like an island, separated from the mainland by the swath of darkness that is North Korea. The dim point that is Pyongyang glows as brightly as Alice Springs, or Akureyri. This darkness is an apt metaphor for the destitution and human waste wrought by fifty years of Communism. We should support, in both words and deeds, Shin and anyone else who can bring a light to this darkness.