A man who defected from North Korea has recounted how the regime teaches children that Christianity is an evil American religion.
In an interview with World Watch Monitor, the defector, who goes by the pseudonym John Choi, spoke about his experiences as a child back in North Korea.
Every year, Choi would receive a large pack of sweets from his parents to celebrate the birthdays of North Korea’s Kim dynasty founder, Kim Il-sung, and his son and successor, Kim Jong-il. But before unpacking the sweets, Choi would have to bow down to the pictures of Kim Il-sung and his son.
Choi recounted how the history class in primary school taught children about the “great deeds” of Kim Il-sung, and how they were taught that Christianity was evil.
“We had an anti-Christian education throughout, which involved depicting foreign missionaries as wolves, imperialist enemies who kidnapped children, took out their organs for profit and wanted to invade our country,” he recounted.
“We would see a missionary and a cross as one and the same. They didn’t explain about the cross specifically, but missionaries, churches and the cross were put on one line together and represented evil. That evil was the United States, and Christianity was presented as an American religion. Becoming a Christian is a political crime in the North Korean constitution,” he continued.
The defector said that he was so afraid of missionaries that when he saw one in China for the first time, he thought that he was “going to rot” if he touched him.
In a separate report by Open Doors USA, Choi noted that the regime tries to instill hatred of foreign missionaries on citizens by telling them stories about Christian missionaries and clerics raping and attacking North Koreans.
Choi stressed that it would not be possible for a Christian to divulge their faith to their peers because they would “disappear overnight” if their faith was discovered.
He recounted that he once witnessed a public execution of a man who was believed to have smuggled a Bible from China.
“I believed he must have done something really horrible, something the government told us not to do. He was said to have committed a political crime and we assumed it had to do with Christianity,” he said.
Choi survived the four-year famine that began in 1994 and was caused by a series of droughts and floods. He recounted that he saw many adults and children collapse in the streets, and a classmate who became critically ill after eating grass.
Choi lived with his grandmother for some time, but he eventually left the regime and soon ended up in the U.K., where he attended university. He said that the only way he would go back would be if another Kim took over and started a restructuring of the political and economic system.