There has been increased interest in the case of Son Jon Nam, an ex North Korean Army officer who was converted to Christianity in China and returned to his country as an evangelist, only to be arrested and convicted of “spying“.

But his case has more than human interests from a civil rights angle.

Newsweek and it’s sister website MSNBC have published articles on his plight, and the plight of the underground church in that secretive country. What is interesting in all this is that the faith is not being spread by western missionaries, but by Chinese and Korean Christians.

So what, you might ask. Who cares, outside of a bunch of right wing fundamentalist nincompoops?

Ah, but that’s the real story:

Here is a short note on the StrategyPage website:

September 5, 2007: The North Korean Army has started a special propaganda effort to discourage soldiers from practicing religion. There’s apparently an outbreak of Christianity in the ranks, and it’s so widespread that the generals are getting nervous.

A longer story about Christian converts in the North Korean Army can be found at Asianews, a Catholic news organization out of Rome:

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Religion “is spreading like a cancer inside North Korea’s armed forces, whose mission is to defend Socialism;” for this reason it “must be eradicated without delay since it comes from our enemies from around the world,” this according to a booklet prepared by the Propaganda Department of the North Korean Army titled Saving Our Soldiers from the Threat of Religion. A copy reached a member of the Committee for the Democratisation of North Korea, a group of political exiles and refugees that had it translated and released….
“Religion and superstition are like poison that corrupts socialism and paralyses class consciousness. Our soldiers must, more than ever, instigate a revolutionary awakening to defy the enemies’ manoeuvres.”

Hmmm…

Although a lot of militant athiests see Christianity  and indeed all religions as a superstitious danger, they ignore that the Christian ideal of the dignity of man was one of the major reasons for the fall of the Iron curtain.

Stalin once scoffed “How many divisions does the Pope have?”.

But the answer is: none. But as John Paul II proved: One man with courage makes a majority. 

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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