Some North Koreans have been able to escape from the Communist country and its strict human rights violations. Kim Eun Jin is one of those survivors.
The 31-year-old was born in Pyongyang, North Korea. She was part of the nation’s secret underground church, and her story has never been told until now.
America’s Central Intelligence Agency estimates that some 24 million people live in North Korea. The best estimate is about 2 percent or 480,000 of them are Christians.
“Growing up I was told by the authorities that there was no God in this world,” Kim recalled. “We were ordered instead to worship Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the leaders of the country.”
Freedom of religion is guaranteed under North Korea’s constitution, but it’s never encouraged.
“We met every Saturday evening,” Kim said, explaining what it was like being a believer in North Korea.
“My family gathered in the back room of our small apartment,” she continued. “We had to be very quiet. We whispered when we prayed, sang songs or read the Bible. We often covered our heads to muffle the noise.”
A Secret Revealed
Growing up, Kim said she heard stories of how her native city Pyongyang was once known as the “Jerusalem of the East.”
In 1945, 13 percent of the population was Christian. The city was the center of Christianity on the Korean Peninsula. Half a century later, Kim’s faith made her a target.
“My parents often asked me to stay outside the apartment on Saturdays to make sure no one was coming while the family prayed inside. We couldn’t allow anyone to know what was going on,” she told CBN News.
Over time, the meetings grew to include a few friends and extended family.
“We had one Bible in the house. My grandmother, who was a believer from the Japanese Imperial times, had a Chinese Bible. She translated the Bible by hand into the Korean language on pieces of paper. That’s how we read the Bible. We found strength in those pages,” Him said.
But soon the authorities discovered that her father was a secret believer.
“My father was a tailor in town and the police suspected something was going on,” she recalled. “We believe they planted listening devices in his shop and on his clothes.”
In 1994, police discovered that Kim’s father was operating a secret underground church. They raided the house, arrested him along with an uncle, and both men likely ended up in one of the six labor camps dotting North Korea.
“The day my father was arrested I was at school, but I’ll never forget that day. He hugged me before I left for school and like every other day he reminded me to be careful,” Kim said.
“Every morning at the breakfast table he would tell us that one day the government will come and arrest us for being Christians. He warned us of the price we would some day pay for our faith. I remember him saying often that ‘Even if I face death I will follow Jesus,'” she added.
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SOURCE: CBN News