The North Korean Freedom Week, which has been held annually for the liberation and free unification of North Korean compatriots, began its official schedule on Sunday with a Sunday worship service at the New Hope Bible Church.
In particular, the chairman of the North Korean Refugee Human Rights Association, Kim Yong-hwa vividly conveyed the fierce process of defection through his testimony, and asked for prayers for the immediate return of Koreans who are still suffering from North Korea.
New Hope Bible Church is an American church with only a few Koreans in attendance. The congregants who attended this service prayed together with sorrow while listening to the horrendous human rights situation inside North Korea, and showed deep interest in asking about ways to help them practically.
Kim Yong-hwa, who was a former official from North Korea, defected in 1988 and was arrested in Vietnam. He received Bibles from the help of an interpreter in the prison just before he was sent to North Korea. After receiving the Gospel at that time, he dramatically experienced a miracle allowed him to successfully escape from repatriation to North Korea.
In his testimony, Chairman Kim Yong-hwa said, "I left my wife, 9-year-old child, and 6-month-old baby at the time of defecting. After North Korean defections, the North Korean authorities define my children as ‘the seed of the national traitor,’ and not only made my 6-month-old baby as a disabled person by stamping it’s shin, but also killed all the rest of my family.”
Kim Yong-hwa said, “North Korea is a world of slavery and dictatorship, but so far, three generations have been inherited and have been in power.” Kim urged people to know the miserable fact that 23 million people in North Korea are living in a place like prison as a result of the regime’s control.
The ceremony was also followed by an introduction to Christian Freedom International(President: Wendy Wright), which is carrying out a ministry to send plastic bottles containing rice and the Bible to North Korea along the water currents.
Christian Freedom International said, "Currently, underground Christians in North Korea are listening to Bible broadcasts from radio stations forbidden in importing, and are living a faithful life by reading the handwritten Bible. The North Korean regime has arrested and abducted them and more than 70,000 North Korean Christians are trapped in prisons and labor camps where they must endure torture and inhuman treatments.”
Christian Freedom International is sending two hundred plastic bottles of rice, bibles, and USBs to North Korea through the currents twice a month. In addition, sending balloons to North Korea and radio broadcasts for North Koreans are the other two methods available.
Bobby Stepp, a pastor of New Hope Bible Church, said, "The sad reality of the persecuted Christians and the North Koreans is the news that Christians all over the world should know about."
On this day, along with Ms. Suzanne Scholte, North Korean defectors were introduced together and received great applause during the opening service of the North Korea Freedom Week.
On the 29th of this year's North Korea Freedom Week event, the first forum will present the women and the marketplace mechanism in North Korea. Also, a discussion on the policy gap between North Korean human rights and security threats will be held on the 30th. May 2nd is scheduled to meet North Korean human rights activists in the United States, and on May 3rd, the National Security and Foreign Policy Forum on the possibility of regime change from inside North Korea will be held at the Rayburn House Building. Delegates to the North Korean Free Week will visit the US Congress on May 2nd. In addition to the official visit, private US Congressional briefings on lawmakers also take place several days during the North Korean Free Week.