Archive for the ‘Christian Federation’ Category

South Korean churches change DPRK strategies

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

According to the Daily NK:

For the ten years from 1995 to 2004, churches in South Korea sent a total of 270 billion South Korean won in aid to North Korea’s Chosun Christians Federation to fund projects including the building of an orphanage.

This money represented fully 77% of all private donations sent to North Korea in the same period. However, the truth is that nobody knows how the money has been spent, or by whom.

Such religiously motivated support for the Chosun Christians Federation results in not only problems for other missionary work, but also prolongs the suffering of the people, according to Yoo Suk Ryul, the director of Cornerstone Church, an active missionary group working along the North Korean-Chinese border. He has just released a new book, ‘The Collapse of the Kim Jong Il Regime and North Korean Missionary Work.’

In it, Yoo writes, “The Chosun Federation first came to our attention as an association affiliated to the United Front Department of the Chosun Workers’ Party so, to that extent, funds from missionary organizations are obviously propping up the Kim Jong Il regime.”

“The rebuilding of the church should not be done through an organization affiliated to the Kim Jong Il regime or the Chosun Workers’ Party,” Yoo therefore asserts. Rather, he believes assistance should be rendered to underground churches, to begin the spread of the gospel from the bottom up.

In addition, “To date, Chinese-Koreans and our defector brethren have received training in China, and through this indirect method have entered North Korea to establish underground churches.” However, “North Korea’s situation both at home and abroad is change rapidly now, so missionaries need to turn to a strategy that is more direct.”

Additionally, he goes on, “The Bible, radio, TV and DVDs should continue to be sent by balloon, along with all other methods of advancing the spread of the gospel,” and explained, “This is a strategy to force Pyongyang’s fall through the gospel.”

Yoo has invested much time and effort into persuading Korean churches to end their existing missionary work in North Korea, and follow a new path. “Missionary work in North Korea is not something that can be accomplished with a strategy of passion alone,” he writes, “This missionary strategy does not grasp the essence of the North Korean system; it is a house of cards.”

Read the full story here:
New Religious Strategy Is Needed
Daily NK
Cho Jong Ik


North Korea said to have 500 house churches, 20,000 Bibles printed

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Michael Rank

North Korean officials have claimed that there are 500 “house churches” where Christians can worship in a country that has been widely accused of ruthlessly persecuting believers, sometimes to death.

Two British parliamentarians who visited North Korea late last month quote officials of the Korean Christian Federation as making the claim, although they note that “other sources question this and we were unable to verify these figures.”

At Bongsu Protestant church in Pyongyang (satellite image here) they were told that 20,000 Bibles and hymnals had been printed and that there were 13,000 Protestants in North Korea.

Lord Alton and Baroness Cox visited a new Protestant seminary in Pyongyang with 12 students and 10 teachers, as well as Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches in the capital.

In their report, Building Bridges, Not Walls they describe how seminary students “pursue a five-year course and are then admitted to the Korean Christian Fellowship as pastors upon graduation.”

“The Protestant church expressed a desire to establish links with Protestant, particularly Presbyterian, churches in the UK, and appears to receive support from Korean-American Christians in some parts of the United States.”

Alton and Cox, both devout Christians, said North Korean officials had reiterated an invitation for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to visit Pyongyang. The invitation was first extended by the speaker of the Supreme People’s Assembly, Choe Tae-bok, when he visited Williams at Lambeth Palace in London in 2004 and whom Alton and Cox met again last month.

The invitation seems to have caused some embarrassment to the archbishop. A spokeswoman for Dr Williams told NKEW she had no knowledge of it and failed to respond when asked to check further into the matter.

Alton and Cox, who were paying their third visit to Pyongyang, said Choe had accepted an invitation to visit Britain again next year.

The group also visited the Supreme Court, where “it was evident that the defendant in a trial is already deemed a suspect, as reflected in the structure of the courtroom in which the defendant is placed in small, wooden enclosure, seated on a small, very uncomfortable stool, in contrast to more comfortable chairs for others.

“The Senior Law Officer confirmed to us that the principle of innocent until proven guilty does not apply in the North Korean judicial system.

“‘Most defendants are those whose crime has already been revealed, before indictment, by investigation by the police. When a person comes to court, we do not think of them as innocent,’ he said.

“Furthermore, it appears that the legal defence available for the defendant would only become actively involved in the process once the ‘suspect’ is brought to trial and all the relevant evidence has been prepared.

“We would urge the DPRK authorities to ensure that the accused receives legal assistance before the trial stage,” Alton and Cox say in their report.

They frequently asked whether they, or any foreigners, could visit a prison, including the notorious Yodok prison camp, and were told emphatically “no”.

Alton and Cox also discussed security issues with North Korean officials, including Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Kung Sok-ung.

who told them that his government’s position on peace and security “remains unchanged – to settle the issues through negotiation and dialogue, and to secure stability through peaceful means.”

There do seem to be signs of internal change, however. Senior North Korean officials told the group that the country is entering a period of “momentous change”, and the report notes that “It is also interesting that the emphasis in North Korea has changed, from a focus on its ‘Songun’ or ‘military first’ policy, to a new objective of establishing a ‘great, prosperous and powerful nation’ by 2012.

“This was set out in a communiqué by the Workers’ Party of Korea on 11 October, marking its sixty-fifth anniversary, in which it spoke of building a ‘dignified and prosperous’ nation.

“This change of emphasis is very welcome, and presents the international community with another important opportunity.”

“We believe the time has come for North and South Korea and the United States, with assistance from others in the international community including the United Kingdom (as a former combatant nation which saw 1,000 of its servicemen lose their lives in the Korean War), a neutral country such as Switzerland or Sweden (who were among the countries given responsibility in 1953 to oversee the armistice), and, above all, China, to work to find ways to turn the armistice into a permanent peace.

“A Beijing Peace Conference at which North and South could resolve their differences should be convened once the necessary preliminary brokering has been completed.

“We also believe grave human rights concerns should be discussed through a process of dialogue and constructive, critical engagement, in parallel with a resumption of the Six-Party Talks concerning security, in the same way as the Helsinki Process was established by President Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher with the Soviet Union. It is time for peace, and it is time for Helsinki with a Korean face”.

They add that “DPRK officials made it clear that a permanent peace, and reunification of Korea, is their priority, and they emphasised their commitment to negotiating a peaceful resolution through dialogue.”

For an interview with Baroness Cox after her previous visit to Pyongyang in 2009 click here.


World Council of Churches visiting North Korea

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

UPDATE 2: Well apparently the World Council of Churches is in bed with the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  According to their most recent press release:

Nearly 140 leaders from the world’s churches, North and South Koreans among them, have called for the formation of an inter-Korean confederation even before complete reunification of Korea can take place. Agreement was reached at the close of a three-day meeting in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong where the Christian leaders expressed unrelenting hope for peace and reconciliation among Koreans, despite the stark realities of the ongoing division of the Korean peninsula.

The call for a confederation came in a communiqué developed by the group at the end of their international consultation on Korean reunification. The “Tsuen Wan Communiqué” says the confederation option would involve progressive steps such as peaceful co-existence and the furthering of economic cooperation between the two Koreas.

The proposal for an inter-Korean confederation was presented to the group jointly by church leaders from North and South Korea on the final day of deliberations.

The “confederation system would respect both governments”, said the Rev. Kang Yong Sop, chairman of the Korea Christian Federation of North Korea, in a presentation to the group on Friday morning.

“North and South Korea must first recognize each other’s systems and engage in cooperation in any field possible, and institutionalize the results,” said Suh Bo Hyug, a member of the National Council of Churches in Korea’s reconciliation and reunification committee: “Only then will they move closer to reunification.”

The communiqué was the outcome of a consultation on peace, reconciliation and reunification of the Korean peninsula held 21 to 23 October 2009, sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA).

Of course the confederation plan was raised by Kim Il sung years ago and the DPRK is still pushing that vision as an intermediary step towards reunification.

And if there was any doubt remaining:

They also called for all sanctions against North Korea imposed by the United Nations Security Council to be lifted, for immediate bilateral talks between the United States and North Korea, and for North and South Korea to implement fully the 15 June 2000 North-South Joint Declaration and the 4 October 2007 Declaration, both of which spelled out a number of goals and steps toward reunification.

UPDATE 1:  The WCC issued an interesting press release following their visit to the DPRK.  Here is an excerpt:

Visiting North Korea at the invitation of the Korean Christian Federation of North Korea, Kobia and the delegation visited three churches on Sunday 18 October.

In addition to visiting the Bong Soo Church the delegation also visited the Chilgol Church in the capital, Pyongyang, and a house church of 12 members in the town of Sunam which is near Pyongyang.

Continuing with the Corinthian example Kobia told the Bong Soo congregation that no church is more important than the other. “The body is whole when all the parts cooperate with each other,” he said. “Therefore in his letter to the churches in Corinth, Paul appeals to the community to recognize each other as being a very important part of the body.”

The Bong Soo Church was constructed in 1987 with funding from the North Korean government and the Presbyterian Church of Korea. The church is thoroughly modern with a full sound system, balcony and music text on a large screen in front of the church, a video camera system, a high-lofted ceiling and an area for a large choir.

Bibles and songbooks line the seating areas for the congregations. Within the church compound is a recently constructed theological seminary where 12 students are now enrolled to earn degrees in evangelism.

The Bong Soo worship service overflowed with music from the choir, soloists and several women’s groups, mostly singing traditional hymns. Asked if the abundance of music was especially for the WCC delegation, a congregation member said no, “this happens every week.”

The smaller congregation at the Chilgol Church, which the WCC delegation also visited, has been in existence since the late 1800s. The current building is relatively new, as the original building was destroyed in the Korean War by the U.S. bombing of Pyongyang.

A WCC delegation member asked the congregation about the noticeable absence of children in the churches. While acknowledging this is a challenge within North Korean society, they said the children are involved in a broad range of other activities and some will at a later age come to church. They said it was their job to teach their children at home about Christianity.

On Sunday afternoon the WCC delegation visited a house church of 12 members who meet in a home in the community of Sunam outside of Pyongyang. They said the house church movement within North Korea is growing.

The church meets on Sundays, sitting on the floor of the living room of a member’s home. One member brings an accordion to accompany the singing. The singing in the North Korean church tends to be extraordinarily rich and is a key part, along with prayer and teaching, of any worship service.

Read the full press release here.

ORIGINAL POST: According to the press release on their web page (written before departure):

The visit is at the invitation of and being organized by the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) of North Korea and will take place 17 to 20 October.

“We will be meeting with the churches, government officials and learning about the life and witness of churches in North Korea,” said Dr Mathews George Chunakara, director of the WCC Public Witness programme and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, who will be a member of the delegation travelling with Kobia. “We will be participating in the worship service at Bong Soo Church in Pyongyang, where the WCC general secretary will preach.”

The churches in North Korea are involved in social development and humanitarian aid assistance, and the members of WCC’s ecumenical fellowship have been supportive to the KCF for the past several years, said Chunakara.

The visit is taking place at a time when intense multilateral diplomatic efforts and negotiations are under way on issues related to denuclearization of North Korea and resumption of Six Party Talks, which were stalled for some time after North Korea withdrew from the talks.

Although North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is said to have made the announcement to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Pyongyang last week during his three-day visit that North Korea would return to the Six Party Talks, it is also reported that Kim Jong-il said the return would be dependent on the progress of its planned bilateral talks with the US.

The WCC has been relating with the churches in North Korea for the past 25 years, with the first official visit having taken place in 1985. In the early 1980s the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs initiated a process aimed at peace, reconciliation and reunification of the Korean peninsula and bringing church leaders from North and South Korea together.

This is the second visit of a WCC general secretary in ten years. In 1999, then general secretary Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser visited North Korea.

After the visit to North Korea, the delegation will travel to Hong Kong to participate in an international consultation on peace, reconciliation and reunification of the Korean peninsula, which will be held from 21 to 23 October.

The WCC general secretary will be accompanied by WCC staff members Mathews George Chunakara, Christina Papazoglou, Mark Beach and Peter Williams, as well as the general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, Dr Prawate Khid-arn.

Critics of the DPRK have long argued that the primary purpose of Korean Christian Federation is to attract aid from foreign religious organizations. This is probably true to some extent, but the organization has been around since the 1940s so it is likely that by this point its mission within the political system is more complicated than to function only as an aid magnet.

Here are a few older posts about the KCF.


Know the Party before Getting to Know Kim Jong Il

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Daily NK
Namgung Min

As rumors regarding Kim Jong Il’s illness surfaced during North Korea’s 60th anniversary celebrations, opinion was divided on whether the military or the Party will rise in power post-Kim Jong Il.

It is true that the power of the military rose post-Kim Il Sung, according to the “military-first” political line. The National Defense Commission (NDC) began leading various agencies and councils, and came to hold greater power because Kim Jong Il was introduced as the National Defense Commission Chairman during North-South Summits.

Thus, the National Defense Commission under military-first politics began to appear to be North Korea’s sole power base, as news on general-level promotions was released publicly by the National Defense Commission.

However, despite military-first politics, it remains the Chosun (North Korea) Workers’ Party that fundamentally controls the North Korean regime. Therefore, in order to understand the North Korean regime, one must understand the Chosun Workers’ Party.

Upcoming October 10th is the founding anniversary of this most important of organizations. The eyes of the world are focused on whether Kim Jong Il will appear on this day or not.

Therefore, it is time to closely examine what the Chosun Workers’ Party does and how it controls the North Korean regime.

The Korean Workers’ Party claims to be the direct heir to the North Korean Branch of the Chosun Communist Party that was established during “The Chosun Communist Party Convention of Leaders and Devotees of the 5 Northwest Provincial Party Committees” held on October 10th, 1945. Hence the founding date is October 10th. In April, 1946 the name was changed to the North Chosun Communist Party, which then became the Chosun (North Korean) Workers’ Party after being merged with Chosun New People’s Party in August of the same year.

North Korea is operated under the leadership of the Chosun Workers’ Party, as previously seen in other socialist countries; the nation’s power is concentrated in the Party. This implies that as the Party controls the country, the country is evolving into a socialist society and from there into a communist society.

The Workers’ Party, venerable as it is, not only holds the highest position of authority in North Korea but thus stands above other national agencies, organizations or the military.

I. The positions and roles of the Chosun Workers’ Party

The positions and roles of the Workers’ Party are described in detail in the “Rules and Regulations of the KWP,” “Ten Principals for the Party’s Unique Ideological System” and the “Socialist Constitution of North Korea.”

It is written in Article 11 of the Socialist Constitution, amended in 1998, that “The DPRK shall conduct all activities under the leadership of the Workers’ Party.” Furthermore, the Workers’ Party is stated to be an organ that controls other agencies and organizations as the highest revolutionary organization leading all other working organs.

However, the socialist constitution and the rules of the Party are only for the purpose of propagating the notion of the rationality and legitimacy of North Korea abroad while concealing a dictatorship. The reality within North Korea is completely different from the actual contents of the constitution.

In actuality, the socialist constitution and the rules and regulations of the Party defines that all sectors such as government, military, administration, judiciary, and even public prosecutor’s office are led by the Party, while being utilized as the apparatus for Kim Jong Il’s Stalinist dictatorship. That is, the regulations recognize the Party’s leadership of the country and simultaneously state that the Party can only be operated and led by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

The Workers’ Party in legal terms is an organ that guides North Koreans, but in reality it is only an organ under the iron command of the supreme Leader. Therefore, the Leader stands in the highest position, above the Party, nation and sovereign organs.

II. The structure and functions of the Chosun Workers’ Party

The utmost decision-making organ of the Workers’ Party is the National Party Congress.

According to the rules and regulations of the Party, all decision making of the Party regarding policies, strategies, and tactics should be passed through the National Party Congress. However, in actuality the Party Congress only rubber stamps the decisions that were already made by the Central Committee of the Party.

It is theoretically a ground rule that the Party Congress meets once every 5 years. The first congressional meeting was held in August 1946, the Congress met for the 6th time in October 1980, but has failed to meet since; 28 years. The fact that the Congress is not meeting regularly signifies that the regime system is not operating according to accepted principles of socialist states in the past.

If the Congress fails to meet, the Central Committee of the Party functions as the highest decision-making organ. The Central Committee should meet and discuss issues once every 6 months.

During these meetings, the General Secretary, committee members and the Presidium of the Politburo and committee members of the Central Committee of the Party should be elected. The Central Committee also has the authority to organize the Secretariat and the Central Military Commission.

However, even these twice annual meetings have not been held since the 21st meeting of the 6th cohort in 1993. When the meetings are not held, then the Politburo needs to take authority. However, the Secretariat of the Central Committee, whose General Secretary is currently Kim Jong Il, currently does so.

The highest organ in a communist society is officially the Presidium of the Politburo. In North Korea, Kim Jong Il is the only left in the presidium after the deaths of Kim Il Sung and Oh Jin Woo. This is why North Korea is sometimes called a totalitarian state. In the Chinese government, the Politburo presidium is properly functioning and decisions are made here. From a “democratic” perspective, the Chinese Communist Party and the Chosun Workers’ Party are completely different.

In any case, within the Secretariat of the Central Committee there are specialty departments such as the Guidance Department, Propaganda and Agitation Departments, and the United Front Department, and it also includes departments that supply secret funding to Kim Jong Il such as the 38th and 39th Departments.

The provincial organs of the Party consist of party committees of provinces, cities and counties that even include the most basic low-level party committees such as elementary party committees and sector party committees.

The structure of the Workers’ Party can also be divided into permanent party organs and temporary collective leadership groups. The permanent party organs include all members who work in any specialty departments, from the Central Committee down to low-level provincial party organs. Temporary collective leadership groups signify councils of high-level or low-level leaders of the central and provincial organs, made to implant permanent authority within the society through various meetings.

There are approximately 4,000,000 members of the Workers’ Party, including Kim Jong Il, high-level officials to low-level members, and figures from the legislature, judiciary, and the administration.

III. Main Departments and Their Roles

The main government complex of the Central Committee of the Worker’s Party is located in Changkwang-dong, Joong-district of Pyongyang. There are many buildings in the complex which include Kim Jong Il’s personal office and most of the Central Committee departments.

The second government complex is located in Junseung-dong, Moranbong-district of Pyongyang. The Social Culture Department, United Front Department and Operations Department are included in this complex.

The Workers’ Party has placed all specialty departments under the authority of the Secretariat, to function as restriction and guidance on all areas of the party members, citizens and North Korea. There is a Guidance Department that observes party members then there are other departments that exercise political functions.

The Guidance Department actualizes party guidance and restraint within communities. The department functions as Kim Jong Il’s right hand and as the core department by restraining the lives of all officials, members and citizens within the party.

The Guidance Department sub-divides into the inspection department, official department, party-member registration department, administration department and a communication department that allows direct reports regarding any incident or accident. The Guidance Department also manages the judiciary and the public prosecutor’s office.

The inspection department is responsible for inspecting any anti-party, non-party, undisciplined or unreasonable activities that develop within the regime or leadership of the Party and report to Kim Jong Il. The Guidance Department inspection section is strictly separated from other departments and North Korean party members or officials are all fearful of it.

There are approximately 20 specialty departments such as the Propaganda and Agility Department, the 38th and 39th Departments to supply fund to Kim Jong Il, the United Front Department dealing with South Korea, the International Department, the Science Education Department, and the Operations Department that carry out political activities.

Currently the Korean Workers’ Party is in the middle of the process of replacing 1st or 2nd generation leaders with 3rd or 4th generation, often more practical, personnel.


DPRK humanitarian relief update

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

NKeconWatch blogged earlier about the US-based organizations permitted to enter the DPRK and distribute US humanitarian relief.  A list of those organizations can be found here.

Number three on the list, Samaritan’s Purse, is headed by “US religionist” Franklin Graham, son of Rev. Billy Graham, who just arrived in Pyongyang for a 4-day humanitarian relief tour.  Franklin visited the DPRK once before, in 2000 according to KCNA, and met with Kang Yong Sop, chairman of the central committee of the Korean Christian Federation, Paek Nam Sun, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kim Kye Gwan, vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Kim Yong Dae, vice-president of the presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and delivered a sermon at Pyongyang’s Pongsu Protestant Church. 

Since Franklin’s mother spent 1934 living in Pyongyang, the family seems to have taken a special interest in the DPRK.  In addition to the relief they are distributing now, Samaritan’s Purse chartered a 747 cargo jet from Charlotte to deliver $8.3 million in medicine and other emergency supplies in August of 2007. It was the first private flight directly from the U.S. to North Korea since the Korean War.

Graham’s organization has been posting information on his trip here and here.  Greta Van Sustern has been posting video here: hospital visit (the most informative), monument 1, monument 2, Grand People’s Study House, Mass Games (most inaccurate), Mr. Graham’s work, taking off from Sunan Airport (interesting), Franklin Graham video 1, Video 2, and interview transcript.

Read more here:
Evangelist Franklin Graham to preach in North Korea
McClatchy Newspapers
Tim Funk