The first press interview in more than twenty years with a professing Christian in North Korea confirms the long-suspected fact that the organized church in that closed land has disappeared.
Reporters from South Korea accompanying Red Cross delegates to the Communist capital of Pyongyang for a dramatic, unprecedented exchange of visits between north and south interviewed Kang Ryang-uk, a former pastor and high-ranking Communist official, currently chairman of the North Korean “National Unification Democratic Front.” He may be the last Christian minister left alive in North Korea, a circumstance he undoubtedly owes to the fact that he is, reputedly, an uncle of Premier Kim Il-sung. Kim is to North Korea what Mao Tse-tung is to China.
Asked about Christians and the church in the north, Kang promptly attacked the United States. “We cannot tell how many Christians there are,” he said, “because all the churches were destroyed by the U. S. bombers during the war, and many Christians have abandoned their belief.”
Pressed about his own faith, he sounded confused and evasive. “Well …,” he said, “my belief has never changed. It is the same as in the past.” “Do, you believe in the existence of God?”
“I’m a pastor,” he replied. “How can I doubt it?”
Reporters asked if he intended to build new churches since all the old ones were destroyed. “I don’t know,” Kang said. “I think we could build a new one if the Christians wanted to do so. The republic’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion.”
“Do Christians have meetings here?” “I don’t think so, but I don’t know if they do in the provinces.”
“How about the supply of Bibles?”
“Not many people want them, because all the churches have perished,” he said.
Now 70, Kang was a respected Presbyterian ...1
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