by CHQ Staff
The establishment media has done its best to ignore or step on the story of the magnificent work President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did to gain the release of three American Christians grabbed-up as hostages by North Korea.
In a statement as they traveled to the United States, the prisoners said that they wanted to give their “deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and the people of the Trump KoreaUnited States for bringing us home.”
“We thank God and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return,” they said.
Tony Kim (who also goes by the Korean name Kim Sang-duk), Kim Hak-song and Kim Dong-chul are the three Korean-Americans who were arrested and imprisoned by North Korean authorities – and who were sentenced to 10 years to life at hard labor – but no one in the establishment media seems to want to talk about exactly why they were arrested.
But the “why” of their arrest is essential to understanding their individual stories and the importance of their release.
Tony Kim, who taught at North Korea’s only privately funded college, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which was founded in 2010 with donations mostly from Evangelical Christian groups, was detained April 22, 2017, at the Pyongyang airport for committing “criminal acts of hostility aimed to overturn” North Korea.
Kim Hak-song was held by the North Koreans on suspicion of “hostile acts” in May 2017. He described himself as a Christian missionary and was also a teacher at PUST.
Kim Dong-chul is a pastor in his early 60s who was arrested in 2015 on spying charges and later sentenced to 10 years hard labor in April 2016.
PUST is open about its affiliation but understandably reserved about evangelicalism reported Christianity Today’s Kate Shellnutt. The University was founded by Korean-American evangelical James Kim in 2010 following the success of a similar venture—Yanbian University of Science and Technology (YUST)—on the Chinese side of the border.
“An unofficial deal was struck between PUST and the regime that allowed the evangelicals to build the school in Pyongyang, fund it, and teach the students, as long as they do not discuss Christianity in public,” Suki Kim, a writer who lived for six months at PUST, told The Washington Post. “PUST offers a mutually beneficial arrangement for both North Korea and the evangelicals. The regime gets free education for its youth and a modern facility, which can be used for propaganda, while the evangelicals get a footing in the remote nation.”
Both PUST and YUST hire mostly Christian faculty says Ms. Shellnutt, including dozens of US citizens, along with other foreigners, who consider the position missionary work. Suki Kim said the government regulates all curricula, but mostly allows the faculty to practice their faith in private. However, at any time, officials could opt to punish Christians for their activity or affiliations, sentencing them to severe punishments like lifelong manual labor or death.
Believing in the power of Jesus Christ was the only “criminal acts of hostility aimed to overturn” North Korea the former detainees committed; each was targeted only because of his Christian faith and as a faithful Christian each was seen as an existential threat to the North Korean regime.
Open Doors USA, which lists North Korea as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world, also praised the release of the three prisoners, but warned that many more Christians remain suffering under the Kim regime.
“We must continue to call attention to the 50,000 Christians who have been detained in these interrogation centers, prison cells and work camps. And we must continue to work toward religious freedoms for the estimated 300,000 North Korean Christians who must practice their faith under threat of harassment, imprisonment and even death,” urged David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA.
Opening the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to Christianity may prove to be a tall order for the first summit between the U.S. and North Korea, however, in obtaining the release of Tony Kim, Kim Hak-song and Kim Dong-chul President Trump has once again proven himself to be a defender of persecuted Christians and, strange as it may seem, the best friend of religious liberty to inhabit the White House in a long time.