As WORLD reported last week, special commission of the UN Human Rights Council has produced a damning report about human rights abuses in North Korea. The report is a real-world depiction of George Orwell’s famous definition of totalitarianism as a boot stamping on a human face, over and over and over. Like Nazi Germany or Soviet Siberia but happening right now. The People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea did not volunteer this information. Instead, the committee methodically took public testimony from around 80 Asia-watchers and witnesses in five locations worldwide, plus more than 240 private testimonies from survivors.
Their stories are harrowing—but we already know that. We know about the forced repatriation of refugees, the mass starvation, the “enemies of the state” thrown in prison camps on the slightest pretext, often with their entire family. We know about the relentless propaganda and choking of normal movement, expression, and freedom of choice. We know it’s death to declare oneself a Christian. The UN has only made these facts official and beyond question. So what’s to be done?
The HRC’s recommendations will leave Kim Jong Un and his inner circle helpless—with laughter. The commission urges them to reform their system of suryong (the official personality cult requiring absolute obedience to the supreme leader), release political prisoners and grant freedom of movement to their citizens, or else … the council will refer them to the International Criminal Court. Not only that, but the UN will keep monitoring—even form a permanent committee! And reconvene all the parties involved in the Korean War and hammer out a settlement (remember, that war never officially ended) in accord with the principles of the charter of the United Nations, including human rights. Take that, hermit kingdom!
Granted, the commission is not authorized to declare war or sanction regime change in North Korea. But while exposing the horrors it also exposes the helplessness of the “international community” in the face of willful destructiveness and cruelty. The UN can’t agree on where evil comes from, or even what evil is. As many commentators have pointed out, the vow of “never again” after the Holocaust is an empty promise, the diplomatic equivalent of teaching the world to sing “Imagine.”
Here’s what to do: Haul out the siege weapons of prayer, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). Pray for the protection of Christians caught in the maw—for their bodies and for their souls. Pray that better technology and increased communication will permeate the stone wall of propaganda. Pray that hearts among the elite would be changed. Pray for the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to shine in the darkest places where Satan rules. Pray that force would be applied when necessary. Pray that God would be glorified and “let the nations know they are but men!” (Psalm 9:20). He always has. He always will, and prayer is our gracious part to play.