Monday, April 09, 2007

North Korean converts influence those back home

Lee Soon Ja, who ran a shelter for fugitive North Koreans, said many North Korean defectors became interested in religion as a result of their experience in China.

"One day a boy told me that a person in the [North Korean] Intelligence Service asked for me to bring a Bible with a zipper to him. So he sent it to him," Lee added."He might have been one of the boy’s relatives who found out that the boy’s visit was of great economic assistance to a family who had been long starved, and this seemed to make him request a Bible with a zipper," she said.

The number of religious believers in North Korea is unknown, but has been estimated at 10,000 Protestants, 10,000 Buddhists, and 4,000 Catholics by overseas observers.

Lee Soon Ja, a defector who made it to South Korea three years ago, said the official churches in Pyongyang were largely a propaganda tool to show foreign believers visiting the capital.
Repatriated converts still had to conduct their worship in secret, with no access to the official churches, she said.

[Radio Free Asia]

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