Tuesday, November 13, 2007

'Spies' identified as Christian photographers:'They had started studio to support themselves'

A team of "foreign spies" arrested by North Korean authorities-and possibility executed-actually are Christians who had started a portrait photography studio to support themselves, according to The Voice of the Martyrs, which ministers to the Persecuted Church worldwide.
The organization based in Bartlesville, Okla., is reporting that authorities from the National Security Service of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea held a news conference in Pyongyang recently to announce the arrest of "foreign spies" and "native citizens working for a foreign intelligence service."However, the people arrested were, in fact, "Christian believers and not spies," VOM confirmed. Li Su Gil, a spokesman for the security service, did not identify those arrested but confirmed they "carried out the missions by means of diverse espionage equipment," according to VOM.VOM then identified the following North Korean Christians "who have disappeared and are believed to have been arrested by government authorities:"
Onseong, North Hamgyong Province: Chul Huh, male; Chun-Il Jang, male, 39; Young-Si Jin, male, 32; Myung-Chul Kim, male, 36; Nam-Suk Kang, male, 48; and Young-Yae Lee, female, 37. Yoeryong, North Hamgyong Province: San-Ho Kang, male, 36. Cheongjin, North Hamgyong Province: Mi-Hae Park, female, 30; Suk-Chin Suh, male, 29."These North Korean Christians had started a portrait photography studio to help support themselves, and had registered their businesses with appropriate government authorities," VOM said. "According to VOM sources working in North Korea, they were not involved in espionage activities. It is believed that equipment taken by the government was in fact photography equipment used in their portrait work." "Following Jesus Christ is considered treason in North Korea, where the government mandates that worship is reserved for deceased dictator Kim Il Sung and his son, the current dictator, Kim Jong-il," said Todd Nettleton, spokesman for VOM. "The Voice of the Martyrs is proud to stand with Christ's followers in North Korea, and deeply concerned for the well-being of our brothers and sisters there."We call on the North Korean government to release these Christian believers, who were involved in legitimate business activities to support themselves and their families," he said.The Voice of the Martyrs has been involved in helping North Korean Christians for decades, including a ministry project that launched thousands of "Scripture balloons," mylar balloons filled with helium and printed on either side with biblical passages.
"VOM has conducted other projects to help North Korean Christians but cannot discuss details publicly to protect the safety of VOM workers and contacts inside North Korea," the ministry said.The location of those recently arrested also is not known, VOM said."We pray that they are alive," Nettleton said. "But we know it is possible that they have finished their race on earth and gone on to their eternal reward in heaven. We encourage Christians everywhere to pray for our brothers and sisters in North Korea, who must constantly face the threat of arrest, torture and execution simply for living out their faith in Jesus Christ."
As in the days of Noah....

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