Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Friday, February 16, 2007

Juche and Jesus

This Saturday's Gazette contains a story on Juche, the North Korean atheistic belief system, examining whether it's a religion or not.

Some readers may take offense at the story's light tone. North Korea is perhaps the most oppressive nation on earth, and some studies suggest that Christians have been particularly oppressed: One study I saw suggests the government imprisons and perhaps tortures around 50,000-70,000 Christians every year.

One of the experts I talked with, though, suggested that Christianity is percolating just below the surface.

Before North Korea closed its borders and turned to Juche, author James Church says Korea was an up-and-coming hotbed of Christianity. South Korea still is, according to Hae Won Suh, who leads a Korean Baptist congregation in Colorado Springs. Hae says that 20 percent of South Koreans are Christian.

Christianity’s influence lingers up north, too. Church says that Christians do meet covertly in small groups, and he says that if he knows about it, the government probably knows about it.“They have not tried to root out Christianity, primarily because they know it’s hopeless,” Church said. “As long as it’s not practiced overtly, in a way that would threaten the regime, they just watch it.”

South Koreans like Hae, however, hope North Koreans will one day be able to punt Juche for Jesus.“We just keep praying for that country to open its mind, open the doors to the Gospel,” he said. “Some day, God will answer our prayers.”


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