of the New York Sun cites a report on North Korea compiled
by David Hawk, the author of "Hidden Gulag: Exposing North
Korea's Prison Camps." Hawk and his South Korean researchers
obtained dozens of eyewitness accounts of persecutions of Christians.
Bush, in his speech in Japan last week, didn't say that Christians
in North Korea were in large numbers imprisoned, but he spoke
of "satellite maps of North Korea (that showed) prison camps
the size of whole cities."
chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom,
which issued Hawk's report, "called on Mr. Bush to include
the specific findings of the North Korean report in his diplomatic
discussions with Chinese and South Korean officials ... and to
urge leaders of both Asian nations to take a firmer stand against
their communist neighbor." He is proud of the report, citing
the difficulty in bringing together reliable information from
within that ideological mudhole.
tells, among many other accounts, of a woman in her 20s who was
washing clothes in a river. A fellow washerwoman saw a small Bible
fall out of her basket and reported her to the authorities. She
was executed by firing squad.
got off lightly. Nine years ago in South Pyongan province, a unit
of the North Korean army was assigned the job of widening a highway
connecting Pyongyang to the nearest seaport. Demolition of a house
standing in the way revealed, hidden between two bricks, a Bible
and a list of 25 names: a Christian pastor, two assistant pastors,
two elders and 20 parishioners. The 25 were all detained and,
later that month, brought to the road construction site, where
spectators had been arranged in neat rows. The parishioners were
grouped off to one side while the pastor, the assistant pastors
and the elders were bound hand and foot and made to lie down in
front of a steamroller. As if following a script written in early
Roman history, they were told they could escape death by denying
their faith and pledging to serve Dear Leader Kim Jong II and
Great Leader Kim Il Sung. They chose death.
quotes Mr. Hawk's report: "Some of the parishioners ... cried,
screamed out, or fainted when the skulls made a popping sound
as they were crushed beneath the steamroller."
activity is not as rabid in China, but it is everywhere evident,
and it has not been noticeably reduced by recent rumors that the
Vatican may withdraw the papal nuncio from Taipei and move him
to Beijing. The Vatican has so far persisted in recognizing the
state of Taiwan, which is something most other diplomatic entities
shrink from doing. As everyone knows, the determination by the
Chinese to obtain sovereignty over Taiwan is of a pitch comparable
to the Vatican's devotion to St. Peter's Basilica.
desire for diplomatic relations with Beijing makes almost difficult
any remonstrance over Chinese treatment of Catholics, though such
is being attempted, as when the Italian newsweekly L'Espresso
published a two-page article based on an interview with two Chinese
priests. The article had not identified the priests, out of fear
for their safety, but authorities interrogated the reporter's
interpreter to learn their names. The priests have since been
In the interview
one of the priests spoke of a previous detention, during which
attempts were made by Chinese authorities "to evaluate whether
I had become patriotic." China is officially and aggressively
atheist, and such Christianity as is vestigially permitted is
doctrinally emasculated. (Christ did not rise from the dead; his
mother was not a virgin.) Worship is allowed, according to one
Associated Press dispatch, "only in government-controlled
churches, which recognize the pope as a spiritual leader but appoint
their own priests and bishops. Catholic Chinese who meet outside
sanctioned churches are frequently harassed, fined, and sometimes
sent to labor camps."
Catholic Church claims 34 million believers. The Cardinal Kung
Foundation, a U.S.-based religious monitoring group, says the
unofficial church of Chinese loyal to Rome has 12 million followers.
western diplomats to have treated Nazi officials in pre-war Germany?
There is enduring speculation on that subject, but none, we'd
guess, that argues that simply to ignore religious persecution
is one acceptable way to confront it.