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Missionaries in North Korea: is this becoming a thing?


Mercer

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On 11/12/2015 at 2:07 AM, spinsterwv said:

I think they punish three generations of family by sending them to work camps.  It's very likely these jerks will have "minders" to constantly watch them.  They won't be allowed to roam around at will.  If they try anything under those circumstances, they are particularly stupid.  I hope they read some of the books by defectors.  This isn't the kind of place where you can get by with things.  They send officials to pick you up and you are gone.  As Americans, they will just be used by the latest Kim incarnation as some sort of pawn or propaganda piece to extract whatever he wants until he feels like setting them free.  If he sets them free.

The likely scenario is that the whole project could be in question. Locals could be killed for listening to this or having bibles. At worst, three generations of their family could be sent to work camps to be worked to death.  Other people in the organization could be at risk.  I really hope they don't do this.  They are welcome to martyr themselves. No sympathy there. But it's really not fair to the other people.  If it's not a religious organization, don't they usually require the workers to say they won't proselytize for these very reasons?

i have noticed these secret "destinations" on mission websites.  I don't think most of these people know how to be subtle.

 

Im sure that people going to North Korea as aid workers have to sign something that says they will not discuss politics, world events  or religion with locals, but since when have self centred Christians, intent on being missionaries and 'saving' people, minded a little thing like lying?

It's bloody weird that this type of Martyr-Happy Christan Missionary generally seems oblivious to the bigger picture risks associated with their activities. Hopefully they don't get anyone else killed or any legitimate aid workers thrown out/arrested. 

If you know the organisation they are going with, please report them. The risk of them being caught is high and a lot of innocent people could be imprissioned or killed, which seems a high price for them to pay for someone else's grandiose missionary fantasy.

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2 hours ago, Kittikatz said:

Im sure that people going to North Korea as aid workers have to sign something that says they will not discuss politics, world events  or religion with locals, but since when have self centred Christians, intent on being missionaries and 'saving' people, minded a little thing like lying?

It's bloody weird that this type of Martyr-Happy Christan Missionary generally seems oblivious to the bigger picture risks associated with their activities. Hopefully they don't get anyone else killed or any legitimate aid workers thrown out/arrested. 

If you know the organisation they are going with, please report them. The risk of them being caught is high and a lot of innocent people could be imprissioned or killed, which seems a high price for them to pay for someone else's grandiose missionary fantasy.

Aid workers generally have handlers with them who will report back on anything the aid workers do, and control whom the aid workers are allowed to interact with, where they can go, what they can say, et cetera. If an aid worker gets caught doing something unauthorized, the handlers get punished. I've seen a few documentaries where people went to NK as aid workers but brought hidden cameras (one was on aid workers trying to provide famine relief, one was following eye surgeons performing cataract surgery); they had to be so, so careful and they made absolutely sure that they wouldn't put their handlers in danger.

These missionaries don't seem to give a dead moose's last shit about the people of North Korea, and cannot seem to grasp that their actions have consequences. The aid workers and documentarians who clandestinely filmed conditions in North Korea and communicated with locals went in knowing how wrong things could go, and took steps to protect themselves and the people they were dealing with. These missionaries, more than likely, will do no such thing, and it will lead to tragedy. Please, please report these people. Contact the US Consulate in Shenyang, China via email or online form. You very well might be saving North Korean lives (and American/Swedish tax dollars) by doing so.

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When the government of North Korea arrests or otherwise infringes upon them, they'll whine that the US isn't doing enough to save them, probably with a good dose of Christian persecution blame. 

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On 11 December 2015 at 10:04 PM, purple_summer said:

I had an opportunity to meet Suki Kim and hear her speak about her experience in NK. I've also studied the entire region as part of my degree program. 

Stupid doesn't even begin to describe these people. 

I do remember hearing of people being executed in NK in Voice of the Martyrs.  I'm not sure if they were just citizens or if they were missionaries. I honestly don't know how these people plan to even convert people, they won't have a chance for one on one conversations with anyone and in the off chance that they do it's unlikely that whoever they speak to will be receptive and not basically snitch on them.

I found that book fascinating.

The North Korean regime knows that the teachers at the university she taught are Christian, but they're not allowed to proselytise. 

http://www.sukikim.com/ethicsnote

"I call them missionaries not only because they are deeply religious, but also because all that I have read and observed about President Kim and my colleagues suggests to me that their long-term goal is to convert North Koreans. PUST has a sister school in China called YUST (Yunbyun University of Science and Technology) where most of the professors are also Christian. Although they are not permitted to “witness” on campus, some have invited students home for dinner and read Bible verses with them."

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13 hours ago, Peas n carrots said:

Stupid stupid stupid. These folks have no idea what they are getting themselves into. Have they even talked to anyone who has had travel experience to NK?

I don't know the answer to that for the family that is still raising money for their first trip, though I assume they've at least discussed it with their sending group for their cover job. The other family that is doing relocation logistics has been to North Korea briefly ("vision trip") but the experience sounds like it was heavily sanitized and they were shepherded around by handlers ("local guides") the whole time, so I'm not sure they got a very accurate impression of what life is like for most people living there. 

13 hours ago, Kittikatz said:

If you know the organisation they are going with, please report them. The risk of them being caught is high and a lot of innocent people could be imprissioned or killed, which seems a high price for them to pay for someone else's grandiose missionary fantasy.

I don't know that, unfortunately. They didn't say the name of the groups they were working with. I only know the type of work, and while I might be able to figure it out from that, I feel that speculating would do more harm than good.

Obviously I know their names, though, so I will pass along the info I do know to the relevant US authorities.

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On December 11, 2015 at 5:16 PM, salex said:

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2014/10/31/months-bible-n-korea-local-man-says-worth/18272435/

 

This guy left a Bible in a restaurant bathroom, was caught and served 6 months, with the potential of 15 years in prison in North Korea.  Thanks to Sweden's diplomats, he got a relatively light sentence. Despite the bible being found immediately and likely turned in immediately, he somehow thinks he was successful.

Except, it didn't.  The bible was turned in immediately, his tour guide was pulled into the whole thing and had to question the group, it is likely everyone he had contact with was questioned and likely every stop they made on their tour came under scrutiny to see if he left other bibles in other locations. So, one Bible went from his hands into the hands of the authorities cost him and his family (and his church, who helped support his family) money, time, etc.  It cost the USA and Sweden some kind of diplomatic favors, and we will never know if it cost any NK citizens anything other than scrutiny.  

 

 

His minder was probably punished more harshly than the guy who left the Bible in the bathroom. It's well known that the guides are punished for any transgressions the tourists under their care commit. They tend to be super careful as a result, because the tour guides are allowed privileges your average DPRK citizen isn't. For example, you are supposed to bring gifts for the guides and obviously they tend to be things from the west that others wouldn't have access to. 

People are getting more and more bold. The Kim dynasty no longer has the control over the DPRK that they once did. People have been smuggling in South Korean and western media for years across the border for instance. Dissent is becoming harder for the officials to control. The government is trying to crack down but I do not see the Kim dynasty lasting past Kim Jong-un. That's a different topic though  

As a result, this isn't surprising people are getting more bold in trying to be actual missionaries. It's a supremely spectacular bad idea. As it is, it pisses me off that it is evangelical Christian churches take advantage of DPRK refugees once they hit South Korea to increase their congregation numbers. These people just made the most dangerous journey of their lives, I think the last thing they need are hungry pastors swooping in to talk about Jesus. 

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5 hours ago, Lyle Lanley said:

His minder was probably punished more harshly than the guy who left the Bible in the bathroom. It's well known that the guides are punished for any transgressions the tourists under their care commit. They tend to be super careful as a result, because the tour guides are allowed privileges your average DPRK citizen isn't. For example, you are supposed to bring gifts for the guides and obviously they tend to be things from the west that others wouldn't have access to. 

People are getting more and more bold. The Kim dynasty no longer has the control over the DPRK that they once did. People have been smuggling in South Korean and western media for years across the border for instance. Dissent is becoming harder for the officials to control. The government is trying to crack down but I do not see the Kim dynasty lasting past Kim Jong-un. That's a different topic though  

As a result, this isn't surprising people are getting more bold in trying to be actual missionaries. It's a supremely spectacular bad idea. As it is, it pisses me off that it is evangelical Christian churches take advantage of DPRK refugees once they hit South Korea to increase their congregation numbers. These people just made the most dangerous journey of their lives, I think the last thing they need are hungry pastors swooping in to talk about Jesus. 

Not to mention that in some cases, it's essentially trading one cult for another.

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This just seems like a magnificent way to keep international relationships tense. And for people to get themselves (and others) killed.

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13 hours ago, nastyhobbitses said:

Not to mention that in some cases, it's essentially trading one cult for another.

I don't mind if it is done out of their own free will. However, many of the churches and pastors have no problem with taking advantage. Especially since DPRK refugees tend to be isolated and treated differently once they arrive in South Korea. It isn't exactly the warm welcome that is portrayed.

13 hours ago, nastyhobbitses said:

 

 

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Just now, Lyle Lanley said:

I don't mind if it is done out of their own free will. However, many of the churches and pastors have no problem with taking advantage. Especially since DPRK refugees tend to be isolated and treated differently once they arrive in South Korea. It isn't exactly the warm welcome that is portrayed.

 

I don't think we disagree. If defectors find comfort and purpose in religion, that's awesome. But there are too many predators out there. These people spent their whole lives in what's essentially a national cult, and now they've had to leave behind everything they know, endure horrible hardships to get out of North Korea, endure isolation and even ridicule after coming to South Korea (and reportedly, many South Koreans today see defectors as an economic burden, not as their oppressed brothers and sisters), learn an entirely new variety of their language, and un-learn everything they were taught and told to never, ever question -- it comes as no surprise that they'd be ripe pickings for predatory religious types.

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They will last a week. Religion is strictly forbidden in North Korea. Not worshipping the ruing family is strictly forbidden. They just won't last. Whether they run fleeing or they get arrested. This is not a long term thing.What are they thinking???

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Do these people have a death wish? North Korea is not a place anyone would ever want to travel to, especially if you intend to break the law and incite North Koreans to break the law.

 

At least they will know what it is like to be persecuted. Whining because your religion's creation story isn't taught as fact in schools, other people are allowed to have a religion, and things cant be banned because your religion doesn't agree with it, is not persecution. What is persecution is that practicing your religion can get you killed.

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There was a South Korean pastor, IIRC, who was sentenced to prison just this week for such shenanigans as these idiots are thinking of.  I wish I still had a link to the news article.

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10 hours ago, meep said:

They will last a week. Religion is strictly forbidden in North Korea. Not worshipping the ruing family is strictly forbidden. They just won't last. Whether they run fleeing or they get arrested. This is not a long term thing.What are they thinking???

That the Swedish and American governments they relentlessly bash for being "godless" et cetera will effortlessly bail them out of trouble.

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A Canadian citizen, ethnically Korean, in his 70s, has just been jailed for life. He was forced to make a public 'confession' of his transgressions against the state.He was, it appears, administering humanitarian aid

If these Muppets are arrested, I say only help the children, who had no choice as to being there. Let the adults reap what they sowed.

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15 minutes ago, sawasdee said:

A Canadian citizen, ethnically Korean, in his 70s, has just been jailed for life. He was forced to make a public 'confession' of his transgressions against the state.He was, it appears, administering humanitarian aid

If these Muppets are arrested, I say only help the children, who had no choice as to being there. Let the adults reap what they sowed.

Thanks for clarifying the situation, sawasdee.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Just wanted to update on the two situations I mentioned in my original post: I was able to catch up on the news of both families this weekend, and fortunately it appears neither is actually going to make it to North Korea. I'm very relieved.

The Protestant family that was raising money for their "vision trip" failed to meet their fundraising goal. It sounds like they didn't even get close because everyone in their very mainstream congregation thought they were completely crazypants. They showed a surprising amount of good sense by realizing that if they couldn't even fund a visit, they wouldn't be able to get funding for an extended missionary stay, so the idea appears to be dropped.

I'm not quite sure what happened with the Catholic family that was planning their move. They weren't there so I didn't get to talk to them in person, but I spoke to their relatives and they mentioned them doing something completely different that would not overlap with them going to North Korea any time in at least the next few years. I tried to inquire discreetly about what had changed, but they relatives steadfastly stuck to acting like the North Korea plan had never happened, so I guess ultimately all's well that ends well.

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15 minutes ago, Mercer said:

fortunately it appears neither is actually going to make it to North Korea.

Thank goodness!

Edited to add: Looks like they were the ones saved... from their own stupidity!

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On ‎11‎/‎12‎/‎2015 at 0:20 PM, FundieFarmer said:

The codes and secrecy about missions to foreign countries is definitely ongoing. They send the codes to families to teach how to communicate with the missionaries while they're abroad. Obviously you can't really google those since it's a safety issue, buuuut they exist. 

Meanwhile, and slightly OT, The Very Worst Missionary blows open the bullshit behind missionary language as it's used to exploit churches: http://www.theveryworstmissionary.com/2013/05/deciphering-missions.html

Wow great link! I had no idea missionaries had become so skilled at grifting. Reading here, I've started to think about it - We had a neighbour (very religious family) who lost their son in a car accident. He (with his wife and small children) was a missionary in, the Netherlands (Belgium I believe) when it happened. I couldn't wrap my head around why they were needed there. Then I hear about missionaries in England! When did England (home of the Church of England!) become a land of heathens? Then all these short trips the Duggars and others like them go on. They never seemed to accomplish much. Now North Korea? It's like it's become trendy to say you're a missionary.

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On 11 December 2015 at 2:20 PM, Black Aliss said:

More than one person has been imprisoned for religious proselytizing in North Korea

I looked it up. There are currently an estimated 50,000-70,000 Christians in labor camps in NK. I'm so relieved that the two families aren't going. 

Open Doors (referenced earlier in the thread) lists NK as the most dangerous place for Christians in the world.

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On 11 December 2015 at 4:20 AM, FundieFarmer said:

The codes and secrecy about missions to foreign countries is definitely ongoing. They send the codes to families to teach how to communicate with the missionaries while they're abroad. Obviously you can't really google those since it's a safety issue, buuuut they exist. 

Meanwhile, and slightly OT, The Very Worst Missionary blows open the bullshit behind missionary language as it's used to exploit churches: http://www.theveryworstmissionary.com/2013/05/deciphering-missions.html

A bit more OT. Thanks for posting the link to this blog. I haven't read her blog before but I'm a few pages/hours in ;) and I love her. I wish every Christian on earth was like her. Her post about refugees left me with tears in my eyes. 

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4 hours ago, adidas said:

A bit more OT. Thanks for posting the link to this blog. I haven't read her blog before but I'm a few pages/hours in ;) and I love her. I wish every Christian on earth was like her. Her post about refugees left me with tears in my eyes. 

What does she actually DO though, apart from "expose" the shortcomings of fellow grifters for Jesus - I can't work that out.  She seems to have set herself up as the trendy oposition, but I don't see much action?

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15 hours ago, Inky said:

Wow great link! I had no idea missionaries had become so skilled at grifting. Reading here, I've started to think about it - We had a neighbour (very religious family) who lost their son in a car accident. He (with his wife and small children) was a missionary in, the Netherlands (Belgium I believe) when it happened. I couldn't wrap my head around why they were needed there. Then I hear about missionaries in England! When did England (home of the Church of England!) become a land of heathens? Then all these short trips the Duggars and others like them go on. They never seemed to accomplish much. Now North Korea? It's like it's become trendy to say you're a missionary.

This has been a thing forever.  My mom was fundy-lite by the time I was in high school in a church heavily involved with missions.  A girl my age with whom I'd gone to grade school, but I was at boarding school for high school so we hadn't spoken in years, was raising begging (or whatever it's called when they give presentations and encourage people's hearts to give) for money for a mission trip to Scotland.

I was filled with wtf as I'd recently come back from 3 months in Europe on a school thing and we'd been to Scotland and I was positive they had churches there.  Seriously?  How do you even do that "have you heard about Jesus?" thing with a straight face in a European country?  Some don't believe, but it's not because no one ever mentioned him.  Christianity, for good and bad, was a major factor in shaping European history.  

I just figured they wanted to go to Europe and this was an excuse to do so on someone else's dime.  Now, if they had been honest about that and presented it as an educational opportunity for the teens going and asked for donations that's fine - because at least it's honest.  Because honestly, let's reverse it and if a bunch of missionaries from Scotland came to Illinois and started sharing the Jesus stuff...it would be weird, right?  I mean wouldn't the first question be, "why here?"  

 

 

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This also makes the Schrader mission in Zambia look even more like an excuse to live in a foreign country on someone elses dime, and live much better than those you are supposed to be serving.

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