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North Korean leader re-appears

By Dan Etheridge / October 14, 2014

In light of massive world attention on the absence of Kim Jong Un for the last month, North Korea has moved to clarify speculation as to where he is. Photos released yesterday of the country’s Supreme Leader appear to show him visiting a group of scientists – albeit walking with a cane.

Reports suggest that the leader’s absence is due to some discomfort, with the BBC suggesting he could have a bad case of gout or a problem with his hip. Either way, the photos seem to indicate that there hasn’t been a coup or attempt to wrestle power from him by others in the government. All that said, most reports are saying that they can’t verify when the images were taken, so, as ever, information from North Korea is pretty limited!

North Korea does have labour camps – officially

Perhaps the biggest surprise during the last month is that, for the first time ever, North Korea has admitted the presence of labour camps in its country. A North Korean official described them not as prison camps but as ‘detention centres where people are improved through their mentality and look on their wrongdoings’.

It is assumed that this statement was in response to the highly critical UN human rights report issued earlier this year. It has also been reported that a top North Korean official has visited the European Union HQ and expressed interest in dialogue, ahead of discussions on human rights expected next year. It is estimated that up to 70,000 Christians are currently in prison or labour camps across North Korea.

It’s time to pray…

Although there seem to be divisions, that doesn’t mean the North Korean regime is about to crumble. The powerful elite behind Kim Jong-Un still needs him (or someone else of the bloodline) to legitimise their rule.

“For the Christian church, humanly speaking, there won’t be any significant differences anytime soon,” Simon says. However, if nobody holds absolute power any more, this does mean the regime is more vulnerable. Cracks in the power structure may grow wider. “We need to be prepared for every scenario,” he adds. “And we need to pray. This is a very urgent time for prayers.”

*Name changed for security reasons

Source: The Guardian; Open Doors

Please pray

  • That God will change the hearts of the leaders of North Korea
  • That the labour camps will be dismantled and North Koreans will truly be free
  • For wisdom for the international community in dealing with North Korea
  • That despite the difficult circumstances, Open Doors will be able to continue to support the church in North Korea, providing food, literature and training for believers.

Want to know more?

We’ve produced a whole reflection, prayer and action resource around the faith of North Korean Christians. For the last 5 weeks, we’ve been waking up early to pray for the church in North Korea – and you can grab the resources and join in.

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The Author
Dan works part time with Open Doors, mainly sorting out the comms stuff for youth and students. In his other life he's a freelance writer and graphic designer who likes collecting records and sitting on beaches looking at waves.

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