Can religion give impetus for change in North Korea?

  • Characteristics of the Christian movement in North Korea and the former GDR are fundamentally different and based on the facts presented before. While the Christians in the North can only operate in the underground, at risk of being sentenced to work in a labour camp, to torture or even to execution when identified as Christian, the Christians in the GDR were freer although they suffered from repression, too. Compared to non-members they had clearly many disadvantages. However, as a state-independent organization, they were officially recognised and therefore an institution that was capable of leading a dialogue with the government. Moreover, they were able to connect themselves to other political alternative groups representing together a quite large group that was dissatisfied with the present situation without having the prior goal to overthrow the state. Awareness, dialogue and organization - these factors can be considered as decisive advantages in this process. As for North Korea creating awareness and dialogue seems to be a target for support. Even from a humanitarian angle alone. Awareness comes through information and that should be increased, e.g. through mutual development projects, continuous human and food aid, or why not initiating town twining? Just to name a few. More contact will generate more awareness and people will start rethinking their attitudes. Even if the elite benefits it may have a positive impact. Dialogue is pivotal in order to exchange one’s ideas und rethink one’s standpoints. Thus, a dialogue with the outside world shall be maintained and a dialogue among the people within the country shall be supported. Time will show if the introduction of mobile phones and the internet in North Korea will increase dialogue and will finally lead to the third suggested step of grass roots community building - organization. An ecclesial movement alone did not cause the change in East Germany and it will not do in North Korea. But it provided an important ground to connect people and accelerate change in the long run.

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Author:Sven Horak
Parent Title (German):Journal of religious culture = Journal für Religionskultur
Series (Serial Number):Journal of religious culture = Journal für Religionskultur (134)
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Document Type:Part of Periodical
Year of Completion:2010
Year of first Publication:2010
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2010/02/23
Institutes:Evangelische Theologie / Evangelische Theologie
Dewey Decimal Classification:2 Religion / 20 Religion / 200 Religion
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht