North Korea (MNN) ? A dynastic succession of power is under way in North Korea. Kim Jong Un, believed to be 27, has made prominent appearances alongside his father, ailing leader Kim Jong Il.
This follows his promotion to the rank of four-star general in North Korea’s military and appointments to high positions within the Central Military Commission and Central Committee of the Workers’ Party.
The point of a dynasty is to minimize change, and keep the power. Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs sums it up this way: “The reality for Christians in North Korea, especially in the short term, is that change is probably not coming any time soon.”
Part of the problem is that Kim Jong Un is untried as a leader. He came from relative obscurity–a figurative “blank slate.”
“A part of this succession is creating the mythology to go with the character,” says Nettleton. “We would have hoped for a leader who would say ‘Christianity is not a threat to the government. Let’s let the Christians meet together, let’s let them worship openly.’ That just is not going to happen.”
Now the North Korean government needs to establish the young Mr. Kim’s persona as a powerful leader and a great warrior.
In speaking to Voice of the Martyrs partners working with North Korean believers, Nettleton says they’re not optimistic about what this will mean for freedom. “In the short term, look for aggressive action from North Korea on the international stage, but they said that also could happen internally with arresting those perceived to be opponents.”
However, the believers in North Korea have not abandoned their hope. The Gospel is still moving forward. “One of the amazing things about the Christians in North Korea is that they continue to minister in spite of the risk. And in North Korea, they could simply disappear, and no one will ever hear from them again.”
The risks are higher now as the new leader will be looking to prove himself and make examples of those he views as enemies. Nettleton says this only makes the resolve of the Christians firmer. “What we see again and again is North Korean Christians who say, ‘The situation is so desperate in my country, the people are so hopeless in my country. I have this hope. How can I not carry it back with me? How can I not share it with the people around me who are desperate and hopeless?'”
“Pray for the Christians in North Korea, for those who are following Jesus and taking those incredible risks,” Nettleton urges. Stand in solidarity with North Korea’s remnant church. “We need to pray for their safety, we need to pray for their encouragement. I think we also need to pray for their revival.”