What happens when a nation has less than 2% of its population identified as being “Christian”? What if that same nation has almost two-thirds of its citizens living as atheist, agnostic, or “irreligious“? The answer is all over the daily news headlines all across the world: North Korea, and its maniacal and repressive dictator Kim Jung Un.
North Korea and its totalitarian regime is teetering on the brink of war, a potentially nuclear war. They have provoked much of the region and the world for the past fifty years. It is currently under the leadership of Kim Jung Un, who followed his like-minded father and grandfather. At one time North Korea looked very different, especially prior to the Korean War of the early 1950′s.
Christianity first entered the Korean peninsula in the late 18th century, and expanded significantly by the 1880′s. Both Protestants and Catholics achieved a larger presence as the decades wore on- leading up to the war which further split the north from the south. After the war, Christianity (and capitalism) continued to expand in the South- but came to a dramatic halt in the North. The communist-type government in the North viewed Christians as a group at odds with their strong central government, and began ongoing direct and indirect persecution of those who followed Christ.
In January 2013, a Christian nonprofit organization named “Open Doors” announced (for the 11th year in a row) North Korea was the “#1 country” for persecution of Christians.
According to Religious Intelligence UK, the current religious breakdown in North Korea is:
- Irreligion: 64.3% of population- the vast majority of which believe in a “self-reliance” philosophy
- Korean Shamanism: 16% of population
- Cheondoism: 13.5% of population
- Buddhism: 4.5% of population
- Christianity: 1.7% of population (though the official data from the State-run media notes a much SMALLER Christian sector)
This is in contrast to South Korea which is a democracy and is one of the richest countries in the world:
What difference does this all make?
Dictators, monarchs, and other authoritarians have always known that Christianity is averse to the agenda and goals of an oppressive government. The situation in Korea is shown as well in other historical governments and nations: communist Russia, communist China, and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq are some examples. Nazi Germany is another: Hitler was an atheist who knew that the Church would not allow him to do as he pleased.
When citizens have no hope in Christ, or in Heaven or in an eternal life, they typically have no hope at all and are easier to control. The only hope they may have is in salvation via the State, or via their exalted leader. Today in North Korea, that person is Kim Jung Un. Millions of people there worship him, similar to how a Christian would worship and honor Christ. Countries with a majority Christian populace understand that only one man, or being, is to be followed and exalted, and that is Jesus Christ. Strong and practicing Christians simply will not allow one man to govern and order every part of their lives and thoughts.
Here in the United States we have a shrinking Christian population, and more and more citizens that identify themselves as atheist or agnostic. Coincidentally (or not?) we seem to have more people relying on the federal government for their happiness, their wealth, and their life direction. In time, with more corruption, greed, and ego from whomever our President might be, this will lead to major problems and a very different way of life for all of us. It happens gradually, and all it takes is one or two men to implement a dramatic shift in the direction of a country. Today, for North Koreans, it would be extremely difficult to overthrow Un and his posse. But maybe if the North Koreans stood strong for freedom and individualism decades ago, they would not be in the same position.
As focus on Christ diminishes, a vacuum is created in the mindset of individuals. Something must enter and fill that vacuum, and in most cases what fills the void is at a detriment to society and to the person. This is the case in every country, in every State, and in each nation. Should the United States further develop into a country with a minority Christian population, maybe it will not be possible to protect ourselves from the potential of a dictator that does not have our best interests in mind. Ask the native Korean War veterans, from the North. If you can find one that is living that also is willing to speak the truth.