Flight from North Korea

Asia's underground railroad has deeply Christian origins, says journalist Melanie Kirkpatrick.
Flight from North Korea
Image: Courtesy of the Hudson Institute
Flight from North Korea

As the Kim regime maintains its grip on North Korea's people and starvation persists, a handful of refugees are risking the welfare of their families and their lives to escape through China. In recent months, crossing into China has become even more dangerous as dictator Kim Jong Un has tightened security around the border.

Escape from North Korea, the Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad, by journalist Melanie Kirkpatrick, describes how Chinese Christians and churches are supporting escapees in defiance of laws prohibiting such assistance. (See also our review of the book.)

After a long career with The Wall Street Journal, including a 10-year stint at The Wall Street Journal Asia, Kirkpatrick was drawn toward the plight of the North Korean people. In her book, she describes the challenges that refugees must overcome to gain freedom and the risks Christians take to help them flee. Kirkpatrick, currently senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, spoke with Christianity Today about how this underground railroad operates and the dire situation inside North Korea.

How do Christians explain their willingness to risk so much for the North Koreans coming into China?

It's a really powerful example of Christian belief put into action. Many of the rescuers are Christians. Others are humanitarians. The people who say they work for nonsectarian institutions often are motivated by their own personal Christian faith. One American pastor said to me, "If you saw a man drowning, wouldn't you hold out your hand and help bring him to safety?"

It's that attitude, that profound belief in wanting to help one's fellow man, that inspires them. They know that they're taking a lot of risk in helping the Koreans ...

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