A North Korea pastor who was brutalized for his Christian faith describes North Korea as “hell.”
“There is an enormous difference between my life in North Korea and my life in the U.S,” Choi Kwanghyuk, who defected from North Korea a few years ago and now lives in Los Angeles, told Fox News. “The life in North Korea is hell, life in America is heaven.”
While there is a “show church” in Pyongyang for tourists, public worship is forbidden in North Korea. “In this totalitarian communist state, Christians are forced to hide their faith completely from government authorities, neighbors and often, even their own spouses and children,” Open Doors, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving persecuted Christians.
North Korea tops Open Door’s list as the worst country in the world for Christians.
“In North Korea, Christians, and any people of faith, must remain hidden,” David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, wrote in an op-ed, “Christians who are caught attempting to serve the spiritual needs of their struggling communities are punished with imprisonment, labor camp sentences and even death.”
When he lived in North Hamgyong Province, Choi ran a literal underground church with about nine people. “We meet in this rectangular hole and use [a] lantern to study the Bible. Since we cannot sing out loud, we praise by humming the hymn,” he previously told The Christian Post.
“We couldn’t raise our voice during a service, we couldn’t sing out loud during a worship … that was hard,” Choi told Fox News. “We had to hide so that other people could not see us.”
Authorities arrested Choi in 2008 and tormented him for his beliefs.
“I was tortured there,” he said, talking about his time in a state prison. He was interrogated repeatedly, but he held his ground, denying the existence of the underground church. The middle-aged pastor was sent to a brutal labor camp, horrible facilities where enemies of the state often languish in terrible conditions until they die. The injuries that Choi suffered while incarcerated continue to affect him, even preventing him from finding work.
He told reporters that he was offered freedom if he denied his beliefs, but he and others chose to remain faithful.
Choi managed to escape into China before they could kill him or send him to a concentration camp. The North Korean pastor then applied for asylum and made his way to the U.S., which he calls “heaven.”
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