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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Christianity is virtually outlawed in North Korea, where dictator Kim Jong Un is the subject of a personality cult that treats him like a god. The possession of Bibles, open religious services and any attempt to build underground church networks could mean torture, lengthy prison terms or execution.
The following is what North Korean defectors, a Christian activist and a South Korean Catholic bishop with previous links to the North told The Associated Press about the ways North Koreans maintain their beliefs:
Lee - Refugee - Seoul - Christian - Father
Lee, 35, is a North Korean refugee in Seoul whose Christian father prayed whenever his wife slipped into China to borrow money from relatives in the mid-1990s.
“I saw him praying many times. ... My mom risked her life to go to China illegally to feed our family. So when my mom left, he kept praying, sitting cross-legged and trembling in the corner of our room,” Lee said.
Lee - Christianity - Time - Father - Faith
Lee said she didn’t know about Christianity at the time. Her father kept his faith to himself until his death in 1997 in an apparent effort to protect his family. Lee believes her father was part of a Christian population that flourished in North Korea before the 1950-53 Korean War.
“I often think about how great it would have been if my father and I could have prayed together while holding each other’s hands,” said Lee, now a devout Christian.
A former resident of North Korea’s North Hamgyong province, J.M. encountered Christianity after he fled to China in 1998. He was arrested by Chinese police and sent back home in 2001. After serving several months in prison, he said he tried to spread his faith to his parents.
Father - Christianity - Mother - JM - AP
“My father found it difficult to embrace (Christianity) but my mother quickly accepted it,” said J.M. Although he agreed to speak with the AP...
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