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The only thing the Kim family has done, says Eunman Jeon, the son of North Korean Christians, is to “change the name of God and put his own. That is the system of government of the country”.
Among other things, Eunman Jeon is a professional tenor at the Hanover Opera. But the story of this South Korean Protestant Christian goes back to North Korea, where his ancestors were born and grew up.
In his family tree there is a long list of theology students, pastors and Christians committed to the evangelical missionary movement in the Korean peninsula, between the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th.
One of his great uncles, for example, left his house to go south during the Korean War. “He was captured by the northern army. They put him in a group they were going to shoot, but he saved his life and then he studied theology and dedicated himself to the pastorate”, he explains.
His grandfather was one of the few Korean university students studying abroad. “He studied theology and dedicated himself to be a pastor”, he says.
“President Lee [the first President of the Republic of Korea] offered him a ministerial position, but he refused to remain as pastor of seven churches”, he adds.
Its family roots allow him to observe the current situation in the peninsula, divided between a very different North and South. “This family is satan”, he categorically says, about the succession of North Korean President.
“All his constitution and his way of governing come from the Bible”, he points out regarding Kim Hyong-jik, father of the first dictator of North Korea, who became a Presbyterian missionary.
In the midst of the little information that comes from the hermetic regime, many of them of dubious reliability, Jeon has told his testimony to the Spanish news website Protestante Digital.
Question: Your father was from North Korea.
Answer: My father's hometown is close to the current border with South Korea. In 1945, the entire peninsula was still colonized by Japan and there was no territorial limitation.
What we now know as North Korea is a very mountainous territory with few valleys, which are concentrated precisely in the area where my father used to be.
Therefore, it is an agricultural region, where rice is harvested and where there was a lot of wealth. In addition, it is the first place where an Evangelical Christian missionary arrived on the peninsula.
There is little history related to Protestantism in Korea. It goes back about 130 years ago, and one of its first figures was my distant relative. My father's family was rich, because it had rice fields, and they were also Christian.
My paternal grandmother studied theology in Japan at that time, at the beginning of the 20th century. She was married and alone in another country studying Christian theology, while her husband, my grandfather, lived as an opponent in favor of Korean independence.
Q: How did you leave the North?
A: In Korea, members of the same family usually live together, even after they get married, so a house has to be very big. My father, despite being an only child, grew up with his father, uncles and cousins in the same house.
Only one of the children of one of my great uncles, moved south. The rest have continued in North Korea. Everyone thought that the war [in reference to the Korean War, from 1950 to 1953] would not last long. That's why they stayed at his house.
My father was one of the few other members of the family who left shortly after soldiers sent by the Soviet Union invaded part of the peninsula's north in 1945, after the Second World War.
They were led by a captain named Kim Il-sung [the first leader of North Korea and grandfather of the current dictator]. Stalin used it, gave him power and resources.
The president of Korea, then, was Lee Seungman, who had been trained in the United States and was someone very special, because during the whole Japanese invasion he was one of the main leaders of the opposition, both against the Korean emperor, who then submitted to Japan, as against the Japanese themselves.
In jail, condemned to death, he met God and, later, the Christian missionaries took him out of prison and sent him to the United States to be trained.
So not only was he the first president of the Republic of Korea, but he was the first Christian president of Korea swearing his position with the Bible and taking a pastor to the inaugural session of Parliament to pray.
Then, in 1950 the Korean War began and Kim Il-sung came to occupy practically all the territory, except the area of Busan, my city. At that time the border between the north and the south was not as defined as now.
My father left his house and moved to the south as a military volunteer and worked throughout the war as a translator for the Americans.
Later he devoted himself to study agriculture and ended up working as a film producer. He earned a lot of money and collaborated with the church, but it was not enough for him and he wanted to be a pastor.
Q: What happened to the rest of the family?
A: My father never returned home afterwards, nor has he seen his family again. We have not heard from them either, whether they are still alive or not. We have a relationship with the relatives of my father's cousin and his uncle who also left the North.
But I think that those who stayed could live a short time because they were Christians and rich, both targets of the communists.
Q: What do you think of the current situation in North Korea?
A: There is no truth in the communists. In 1970 relations between North Korea and South Korea began, but there have always been deceptions. Even now, it remains the same. North Korea is not a communist country, it is a cult.
His way of governing is based on a country of slaves, where the leader can kill when and how he wants, there is not a system. Negotiation with them is not possible, because they only think of using violence to win.
Q: So, are the current negotiations real?
A: No. The Kim family only wants to remain in power, nothing more. Between 1990 and 1997, 3.5 million people died of starvation in North Korea. And nothing happened. In what country does that happen?
Q: And what about the United States?
A: I position myself in favor of Donald Trump because he knows how to negotiate with the communists. He has power, he has strength and he is a businessman, so that for him, cheating is very easy. That is the mentality necessary to negotiate with the communists of the north, because if they had more power there would be no negotiation.
If Trump gets a second presidency, the negotiation will continue and progress will be seen. Now he is blackmailing North Korea, while Japan and South Korea cannot do anything.
The truth is that it is still unknown where the nuclear explosives are, while in South Korea there are still 28,000 US troops deployed near the demilitarized zone.
If Trump does not win, I think North Korea will end up invading the rest of the peninsula, because the South can not face it. Japan is now negotiating with the United States to replace its troops on the border between the south and the north, but it needs to change its Constitution and the Russians and the Chinese will not allow it.
There is not any regional power that really wants to see the entire Korean peninsula united, because it would either support the United States or be a serious economic competitor.
Q: Were there less tensions with Kim Jong-il?
A: This family is satan. All its constitution and its way of governing come from the Bible. The grandfather of the first of the three dictators, Kim Il-sung, was a pastor. His uncle was a Presbyterian. Even Kim Il-sung himself went to church as a teenager.
The only thing he did was to change the name of God and put his own. That is the system of government of North Korea. That's why it's a cult. They are satan.
Kim Jong-un shot his uncle in front of his high officials, not with a gun, but with a small-caliber anti-aircraft gun. He shot him 120 times, until there was nothing left of his body, and he even sent his dogs for the remains.
That is not a person. His father and his grandfather were not so wild. Each generation of the regime is becoming wilder.
Q: What is the situation of Christians in North Korea?
A: My sister has worked for many years as a missionary in China with university students. Many of his companions were on the border with North Korea to welcome and save some of the people who were leaving the country clandestinely.
They did it secretly and without communicating with each other, because the Chinese police are very vigilant.
For the past six or seven years, China has expelled more than 3,500 Korean missionaries from its territory, including my sister. You always hear stories about Christians in North Korea but you can never imagine how cruel they are.
Before the war between North and South, Christians were 3% of the population, and of these, 70% were in the north. Now there are between 200,000 and 400,000 people.
Since 1990, around 33,000 people have crossed the border with the south. It is a painful process because, although we speak the same language, their pronunciation is very different, and so is their mentality.
Some northern Christians explained how they have preserved their faith after three generations of the Kim regime.
Among other things, they said that you can never show a Bible. If they discover a person with a Bible, they shoot immediately. And not only them, but also their family.
So Christians in North Korea are memorizing the Bible. One, Romans; the other, Juan, and so on. There are also Christians among the 350,000 people spread across the different concentration camps in North Korea.
Those camps are much more cruel than Auschwitz. There, people can only look at the ground.
Another reality is the military service: for 12 years men, and 8 women, they cannot visit their home or have any news of their family. Many people come back and some family member has died.
The North Korean government is breaking families. What kind of country does that?
Q: How can you leave North Korea today?
A: Those who leave are mainly women and they do it through the border with China, where they are bought as sex slaves.
There are Christian organizations there that, in a clandestine way, are buying women and then release them through the borders of Cambodia, Thailand or Laos. But there are many police controls and China is very big.
Once they have crossed the borders of these countries, the women go directly to the respective embassies of South Korea to ask for asylum.
This journey along the eastern border of China is very hard. 70% of women do not get it and are trafficked. China is very advanced but there is no balance.
A common worker in a city can live like a European who earns 1000€, but there are villages where some farmers do not even earn ten euros a year.
Therefore, China will never become powerful enough. Furthermore, it is a very plurinational country, and there are regions where culture is still very cruel.
A family in a village buys a woman who in the morning can be with the father, in the afternoon with the son and in the evening with the other son. After so many years of the one-child policy, China lacks women, so that many are bought in the border areas.
Q: How is this situation seen in the South?
A: The quality of Christians in North Korea is higher than in South Korea. When the whole situation that the church is living in the North transcends public information, it will be a testimony that will transform the communities of the South.
There, now, the churches are very big, almost like palaces. There are many Christians who are rotten. They do not see the suffering of their brothers in the North.