VOM Korea brings the love and healing of Jesus Christ to North Korean defectors all over South Korea through home visitations. Most recently, Miss Lee welcomed us into her home. Despite having little to spare, she was excited to serve. To all the world, Miss Lee is a dear old lady with a heart of gold. However, beneath this thin layer of gold lay a broken heart burdened by stress and physical ailment.
Miss Lee’s life in North Korea (and her life as a sex-slaved North Korean woman living in China) had been fraught with trauma. On top of it all, she was forced to serve time in a North Korean prison camp—on three separate occasions.
Her last prison experience was the most terrible: She had no money with which to bribe torturers and she had a costly secret to hide (her daughter had recently defected to South Korea). When another prisoner snitched on her, her prison experience took a turn for the worse.
Every day (for three months) Miss Lee was beaten. She was thrust against walls. When she fell over, she was kicked. Eventually, Miss Lee’s daughter spoke with her church in South Korea and they raised enough money for her release. She is still recovering from the torture.
During her time in prison, she saw how Christians were treated. She knew nothing about Christianity before her first arrest, but was almost charged with being a Christian.
“I first learned about Christianity from my torturer,” she said.
The first time Miss Lee was arrested, she had illegally crossed the border between North Korea and China. This is an especially heinous crime in North Korea because citizens who travel outside of North Korea can be exposed to all sorts of “dangerous ideas”—no matter how hard their government tries to protect them. If North Koreans wish to legally return, they must undergo a scathing interrogation (and possible “re-education”) before being permitted to do so.
Her torturer accused her of being a Christian and probed her for evidence.
However, up until her arrest, she had never heard of Christianity. Eventually, her torturer gave up. She was directed to the district of prison where people from her hometown were kept.
If Miss Lee had been proven guilty of Christianity, however, she would have been isolated from other prisoners. Political prisoners are quarantined to prevent the spread of “counterrevolutionary” ideas. In North Korea, Christians are political prisoners.
Guards make sure to give political prisoners “special treatment”—in the worst possible sense of the word.
Despite this, Miss Lee remembers hearing prisoners speak about Christianity in prison. Officials can try to limit God to a single cell or prison district, but he has proven to be larger than any prison that they can build.
Miss Lee heard about God from her torturers and fellow prisoners. However, the person who brought her to Christ was her daughter, a North Korean defector living in South Korea.