For many in the West, there is no more mysterious nation on earth than the isolated, militaristic country of North Korea.
Often in the news for what are regarded as saber-rattling gestures, North Korea was recently in the headlines because of its efforts to test-launch a rocket said to be a prototype of one that could, theoretically, be used to land a missile farther away from its borders than any effort by the country thus far. Although the rocket launch failed, North Korea is, once again, a cause of concern for those who hope for a peaceful world, where nations engage in rational, constructive conversation with each other.
From a Christian Science perspective, can anything be done to ameliorate the worrying role that North Korea seems to play in world affairs? I find hope in the fact that although the wall of isolation around North Korea seems high and impenetrable, there is no place on earth where the voice of Truth cannot be heard. The Bible tells us that the prophet Elijah heard the “still small voice” of God speaking to him when he found himself in an oppressive situation. The word of God reached Elijah in an isolated, remote location. This voice came to him in a subtle, quiet way, following the drama of a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire: “after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (I Kings 19:11-12).
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discover and Founder of Christian Science, wrote, “The ‘still, small voice’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe’s remotest bound” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 559). The power of prayer can be felt from the large, forbidding spaces of the capital, Pyongyang, to the hidden reaches of North Korean prison camps, to the average North Korean home.
Although it is difficult for those in the West to get an accurate, balanced view of what is going on in North Korea, books such as “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea,” by Barbara Demick, reveal a way of life where tyranny by the state dominates. My prayers for North Korea have included a prayer for the healing of tyranny and for the welfare of the average citizens of that country who, in addition to having to live under tyrannical rule, oppression, and isolation from the world, also have had to contend with food shortages.
Accepting God as the all-powerful God of Truth, who loves, governs, and provides for all His children, I realize that divine help must be available for people anywhere who live under oppression. In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy emphasized the God-given right of every individual to freedom. She wrote, “Discerning the rights of man, we cannot fail to foresee the doom of all oppression” (p. 227). Note that it is oppression itself that Eddy describes as doomed, not individuals. True government is the reflection of God’s government, and we can expect to see just and wise government unfold and emerge wherever it is lacking.
The West needs to do its part in understanding the fears, whether rational or irrational, that North Korea might have of Western motivations regarding perceived domination or control.
My prayers for North Korea also include the prayer for wise and peaceful action on the part of all who interact with the country, a prayer that sees North Korea as part of a united world family. Eddy wrote, “With one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth, and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science” (Science and Health, pp. 469-470).
The recent change in leadership following the passing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in December 2011, has provided hope that a new direction in government might be possible. The world is watching as his son, Kim Jong-un, takes the reins as the supreme leader of a state that idolized his father. There are already a few glimmers of progress, as, for example, more Western journalists have recently been allowed into the country.
The citizens of North Korea have more to offer the world than the stern face shown in the country’s military parades and regimented crowd scenes. The truth about the progress of God’s government proclaimed in the Bible can be realized as it was when, for example, the Berlin Wall crumbled. There is hope in this promise from the Bible: “The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4, New Living Translation).
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