By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
SEOUL/PYONGYANG (BosNewsLife)– A South Korea-based Christian mission group says one of its workers responsible for contacts with underground churches and rescuing Christians in North Korea has disappeared and may have been kidnapped by North Korean secret service agents. In a statement obtained by BosNewsLife, Serving Life International (SLI) said it was concerned about the whereabouts of Deacon Kim WonHo.
“It has been 18 long days since our last contact with Deacon Kim WonHo, one of the Serving Life International ministers,” the group said. He entered China on March 19 “to open up a desperately needed yet equally dangerous channels of contact with the underground churches inside North Korea” and also to meet with a potential rescue ministry broker,” SLI added.
“In light of his sudden disappearance and having been unreachable for more than two weeks, we held an emergency meeting with our local Chinese ministers who were already in Korea for our leadership camp,” SLI said. “In meeting with them and discussing the situation, we have come to the speculation that he has been kidnapped along the Chinese border by North Korean agents.”
It also expressed concern about media reports citing North Korean security services as saying they had detained one North Korean refugee and several Chinese persons who were “terrorists” plotting to kill the leadership of the isolated communist-run nation.
“At this time we are viewing those reports as manipulated rumors,” SLI explained. “We are also desperately believing that the mentioned North Korean refugee is not our brother Kim.” SLI linked the reported detentions however to an upcoming regional Labor Conference in May.
“Though just conjecture at this point, we are hoping that it is simply their ploy to further stabilize their internal system by strengthening supervision and to give wider grounds for mass crackdowns,” in North Korea, the group said.
Deacon Kim Won escaped from North Korea in 2007 and eventually entered South Korea in February of 2008, Christians said. SLI added that he “met Christ personally in 2009 and was baptized in 2011.” The group noted that “for the past six years, he has been faithfully walking with Christ.”
He has one daughter and granddaughter who reside with him in South Korea, but his wife and son still live in North Korea, Christians said.
SLI was originally founded in South Korea in 2006 by what it called “a group of concerned South Koreans, once persecuted North Koreans, and internationals with vested interest in North Korea.” Its main headquarters and operations center is based in Seoul, South Korea, with direct support centers and facilities along the Chinese-North Korean border. The group says it also has support networks throughout America, Britain and Eastern Asia.
The group its Christian supporters “to pray for Deacon Kim” that the “Lord may keep him safe, where ever he may be.” If he has indeed been kidnapped by North Korean agents, “may our mighty God be with him in which ever prison, anointing him with protection, grace, mercy, and guarding his health and life,” the group said.
It also urged prayers so that “we may we be able to restore communication with him as quickly as possible, the peace of our Lord overflow in his family members both in South and North Korea, and that His presence would abound in them.”
SLI stressed that it is also praying that “our Lord will topple the Kim dynasty in haste, so that heart-wrenching incidents like this would come to a complete end.”
Under autocratic leader Kim Jong-un several Christians are known to have been executed in the country where where at least 100,000 Christians are believed to be held in concentration-camp conditions, according to activists and survivors.
Most are said to have been detained for refusing to worship North Korea’s founder Kim Il-Sung’s cult and remaining faithful to their faith in Jesus Christ. Advocacy group Open Doors has ranked North Korea No. 1 on its annual World Watch List of 50 countries where it says it is most difficult to live as a Christian.