Christian Missionary Discusses Experience in North Korean Labor Camp
Veronica NeffingerReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2016 Jun 21
A U.S. missionary recently shared about his experience as a prisoner in a North Korean labor camp.
According to The Christian Post, missionary Kenneth Bae spent two years in a North Korean hard labor camp after authorities accused him of trying to overthrow the government.
"I was running a tour company (to hide the fact that I was a missionary)," Bae said. "Through this company, I would bring people in from other countries and introduce them to locations that exemplified North Korea's natural beauty and local culture. But on my 18th trip, I mistakenly took an external hard drive with me that contained videos exposing the reality in the North. That hard drive was picked up in a security check, and I was detained as a result."
North Korean authorities sentenced Bae to 15 years of hard labor.
For the first few days of his detainment, Bae wasn’t allowed to sleep and was forced to stay in one place for several hours. He says that though these trials were difficult, “there was nothing that I would consider a brutal violation of human rights. I didn't go through anything like torture."
"I comforted myself with my religion and my role as a missionary and tried to do my best each day,” he adds.
Bae was also not allowed much communication with the world outside the labor camp.
"I was allowed by the state to write letters and call my family once or twice to receive help from the U.S. government,” he said. “But when this happened, the authorities told me what to write or say and made it so that I asked the 'U.S. government to do everything in its power' and added in personal stories in these letters."
Bae said that through his time of captivity, he was able to read a Bible and hymnal he had with him. Also, the hundreds of letters he received encouraged him.
Now that he has been released, he says he wants to continue ministering to North Koreans who are mostly unaware of how their government is oppressing them.
Reports state that there are at least 100,000 Christians in North Korea’s labor camps, many of whom face torture or even execution.
According to Open Doors World Watch List 2016, North Korea is the number one country for persecution of Christians.
Publication date: June 21, 2016