NORTH KOREA – Secret Services suspected of involvement in murder of Christian pastor
The murder of Han Chung-ryeol, a Chinese Protestant pastor who was active on the border between China and North Korea, casts suspicion on Pyongyang’s secret services. The mutilated body of Han, 49, was found in Changbai a few hundred meters from the border with North Korea. There are several active Chinese Christian communities in the border areas with North Korea, which have been assisting people looking to get away from that country.
According to various Human Rights associations in South Korea, it seems that this Christian pastor was”murdered” by North Korean intelligence agents. He may have been killed in retaliation for the recent desertion of 13 workers who week fled a government-run restaurant in Ningbo, a city in the Zhejiang province and travelled to Seoul via Southeast Asia, a common route for North Korean defectors, where they asked for political asylum.
Recently, there have been several arrests of Christians in North Korea, including a Protestant minister, Kim Kuk-gi, aged 60, sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor for “acts against the state”. This Canadian clergyman is now forced to dig holes in an orchard for about eight hours a day, and is kept in solitary confinement in a prison camp.
Kim Kuk-gi, accused of disseminating religious propaganda in the underground church, is not unique. Other Christians are imprisoned in Pyongyang for example, the South Korean Choe Chun-il, 55, and missionary Kim Jeong-wook, also accused of spying while trying to give shelter and food to North Koreans who attempted to flee across the border with China.
SOUTH SUDAN Slovakian missionary sister dies after being shot
Veronika Terézia Rackova, a Slovakian nun from the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit , died last week at a hospital in Nairobi in Kenya. She had been shot in South Sudan while taking a patient to hospital. As a result of the attack she suffered multiple fractures to the pelvis and had to be air lifted to Kenya for emergency surgery. Unfortunately she did not recover and died after several heart attacks.
The Sudanese information minister of Yei River state, Stephen Lodu Onesimo, condemned the incident as “an undisciplined and barbaric act” and said those responsible “must be brought to justice.” The South Sudan media reported that three suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack on Sister Veronika.
Sister Veronika was director of St Bakhita’s Medical Center in Yei, South Sudan and had previously served in Italy, Holland, Germany, Austria, Ireland, United Kingdom, Indonesia and Ghana.
This latest attack shows the high risk that religious Sisters and priests run when they help the people of South Sudan. Recently, an educational center run by religious Sisters was attacked and the nuns who worked there were threatened. The gunmen ransacked the place looking for money and other valuables.
For the past two years, the Republic of South Sudan – the youngest nation in the world after its separation from Sudan in 2011- has endured a fierce civil war between the regular army of the country loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels who support ex-Vice President Riek Machar.