Weeks after Australian missionary John Short was deported from North Korea for “anti-state” religious acts, the state-controlled news website Uriminzokkiri (literally, “Within our nation”) released an article on March 24 that uses biblical terms and references to describe the country as a utopian paradise.
Titled “Chosun is a human paradise in which Jesus would have nothing to do even if he came,” the Korean-language piece called North Korea (or “Chosun”) a “Holy Kingdom.” The article painted a rosy picture of a land with free healthcare, free education, and no taxes— thanks to its leader’s perfect philosophy and love. Kim Jong Un, the article claims, embraces his loving people in his “ever-shining arms of eternal life and happiness.”
The article claimed its title is a direct quote from a famous American religious figure who visited North Korea, but it did not name him. It also included a quote from Kim. “Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are great leaders who, throughout our thousands of years in history, are the first figures to be welcomed and enshrined by our people,” the country’s dictator supposedly said. “They are the eternal image of our Baekdu Mountain nation, and the banner of all victory and glory.”
The article is likely an indirect response to the United Nations commission’s report of human rights abuses and chronic starvation in North Korea. Despite those well-documented incidents, the article described the country as an earthly heaven that with “infinite love” heals and raises up the weak, weary, and wounded. Draw nearer to the arms of the fatherland, the article exhorted, and you’ll feel deep into your bones the nation’s grace.
North Korea claims it guarantees freedom of religion, though numerous testimonies from defectors say otherwise. People who have fled the brutal dictatorship testify to religious persecution, especially targeting Christianity. John Short’s recent arrest is one example. Short was detained, interrogated, and kept under 24-hour guard for 13 days after being caught distributing Christian materials at a Buddhist temple and on trains in Pyongyang.
The message from the North Korean regime is clear: Christianity is a threat to their ideology, which is the country’s gospel. The Kim leaders are the North Koreans’ trinity god. And the country lives according to the Kims’ will and hallowed name.