A North Korean man has been arrested on “spying” charges after meeting with Christian relatives in China, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.Kim Seung-mo, 61, was arrested on 3 June after visiting family in China’s Jilin province, which runs along the North Korean border.
“After he came back from China, he openly told his neighbours that his relatives attended a church, and the church’s pastor collected many used clothes from parishioners for him,” a local source told RFA. “It seems like someone informed state security agents about him.”
“All North Korean travellers returning from China are required to report [to the authorities] their whereabouts and details about their activities,” the source added. “In Kim’s case, he was arrested on charges of spying because he did not report the fact that his relatives are churchgoers and that the pastor helped him.”Kim was reportedly “shackled and tied with rope … There were obvious signs of violent assault because [he] had split lips and black eyes, and he appeared to have sustained an injury to one of his legs”.
“He was arrested on charges of spying because he did not report the fact that his relatives are churchgoers and that the pastor helped him.”
RFA notes that “communist and atheist North Korea views Christianity as a contemptible Western religion” and treats Christians with hostility “because [the regime] wants nothing to supersede citizens’ loyalty to the state”.
North Korea was once again No. 1 on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 most difficult places to be a Christian.
Previously, Kim Dong Chul, a 62-year-old Korean-American missionary, was detained in 2015, while Otto Warmbier, 22, arrested in 2016, was given 15 years’ hard labour following his “confession” that he had stolen a piece of political propaganda at the request of his church.
Meanwhile, Korean-Canadian pastor Hyeun-soo Lim was given a life sentence in 2015 for various charges, including trying to overthrow the government. Like Tony Kim, Lim was involved in humanitarian work with orphanages.