North Korean underground Christians aren’t only found inside of North Korea. You’ll find them in South Korea, too—or, rather, they’ll find you…if your ministry has a reputation for protecting their identities at all costs. Because even though North Korean underground Christians may defect to South Korea, they can’t very well announce it once they arrive. If they did, their remaining family members—and the church of which they were a part—would be snuffed out in an instant.
So we were delighted recently to visit with a newly arrived underground Christian sister at her apartment in Seoul. She prepared fruits, boiled eggs, bread and juice and welcomed our visit warmly. We worshiped together in the underground North Korean Christian style, and our sister shared her testimony.
Her family was an underground Christian family in North Korea. Her grandmother and grandfather were Christians and her parents were as well. Actually, her father and mother were killed for their faith in God when she was three years old. So she was raised by her grandmother.
She said that her grandmother taught her many Christian values when she was young. For example, she was not allowed to pick up unattended items like lost pencils. Her grandmother also taught her to appreciate God and help the poor and those in difficult circumstances.
She remembered that she went with her grandmother to an underground church meeting in 1956, as persecution was intensifying to an absolute level. About 20 people gathered in a small house and worshiped. She remembered one praising song, “Singing I go,” which she shared with us.
Most underground Christians share these kinds of stories about their life in North Korea—small stories, daily life and faith. The North Korean Christian stories that make the news always seem to involve valiant witness, torture, executions. But the stories North Korean underground Christians tell about themselves seem to have more to do with successfully resisting the nearly overpowering temptation to filch a pencil left momentarily unattended, thanks be to God.