North Korean Rocket Launch Bodes Ill for Christians

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North Korea's successful rocket launch is putting an end to some of the mystery surrounding its new leader.

Many world leaders say King Jong Un is now proving to be just as provocative as his late father, Kim Jong-Il.

That may also mean an even tougher life for Christians and those trying to reach the country with the Gospel message.

"The message to the world is, 'Don't mess with me. I not only have the weapons, I have the delivery capability now,'" Jung Hoon Lee, Yonsei University professor, said.

Many North Koreans publicly celebrated the country's successful rocket launch, as fireworks ripped through the sky.

White House press secretary Jay Carney called the decision "regrettable."

"It is regrettable that the leadership in Pyongyang chose to take this course in flagrant violation of its international obligations," Carney told reporters.

A State Department spokesperson has said Kim Jong Un has a choice to make. He can spend his time shooting off missiles or he can feed his people, but he can't have both.

His latest choice is an act that continues to be condemned by leaders around the world.

"What we have seen since this president has come into office is the building of an international consensus that includes Russia and China," Carney said.

Meanwhile, human rights groups say North Korea is increasing its persecution of Christians under Kim Jung Un's leadership and it's targeting those who help them.

A recent report by Religion Today said North Korea is sending a growing number of spies to China searching for human rights activists and Christians helping North Korean refugees.

The National Security Agency has taken over border patrols and that's putting pressure on captured smugglers to disclose information about Christians helping defectors.

But that's not stopping their work.

"What they would say is don't pray that we'll be removed from persecution, but pray for us to be faithful within it because God is accomplishing something here that can't be accomplished another way," Rev. Eric Foley, CEO of the Colorado-based ministry Seoul USA, said.

According to Open Doors USA, scrutiny of the brave underground Christians inside North Korea has increased over the past year.

The group estimates about 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are living in horrific conditions in the country's labor camps.

An Open Doors worker involved in ministry among North Koreans says, "it's so dangerous to help Christians who have been released by the government."

He said, "Some have been tortured so severely they cannot walk anymore."

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Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.