January 31, 2005

Underground railroad

A number of bloggers linked to this story from the Sunday Times suggesting that the criminal government of North Korea is on the verge of collapse (I saw it first on Little Green Footballs). It's a fascinating story, though while I'm sure the regime in North Korea is utterly a failing its people, I'm not sure I'm as optimistic about the nearness of its collapse as the author of the article. Tyrants and tyrannies have proven remarkably durable.

I found this to be the most interesting passage:

Word has spread like wildfire of the Christian underground that helps fugitives to reach South Korea. People who lived in silent fear now dare to speak about escape. The regime has almost given up trying to stop them going, although it can savagely punish those caught and sent back.

“Everybody knows there is a way out,” said a woman, who for obvious reasons cannot be identified but who spoke in front of several witnesses.

“They know there is a Christian network to put them in contact with the underground, to break into embassies in Beijing or to get into Vietnam. They know, but you have to pay a lot of money to middlemen who have the Christian contacts.”

Her knowledge was remarkable. North Korean newspapers are stifled by state control. Televisions receive only one channel which is devoted to the Dear Leader’s deeds. Radios are fixed to a single frequency. For most citizens the internet is just a word.

Yet North Koreans confirmed that they knew that escapers to China should look for buildings displaying a Christian cross and should ask among Korean speakers for people who knew the word of Jesus.

“The information blockade is like a dam and when it bursts there will be a great wave,” said Shin, the crusading pastor.

I was reminded of the Abolitionists who ran the underground railroad -- indeed, the plight of the average North Korean is probably as bad as that of an American slave, if not worse. It is amazing how the names and countries and religions and cultures change, but the one enduring constant is the desire for freedom....

Posted by Ideofact at January 31, 2005 12:25 AM

I find it intriguing that one thing has remained constant between the old Underground Railroad, and the new, Korean one.

Christians are heavily involved in this new one, and in the old Underground Railroad in America.

Posted by: steve h at February 1, 2005 09:34 AM