‘Hitler and the Nazis mostly killed people they did not see as their own, but in North Korea our people are doing this to each other,’ says Shin Dong-hyuk.
As a young boy Shin Dong-hyuk (“Yuke”) informed on his mother and brother. He had been born in a concentration camp for dissidents and families of dissidents. Then, at age 13, he was dragged from his cell to watch as his mother was hanged and his brother shot. Brainwashed, he believed they deserved to die. Now 31, and escaped, he feels guilty for his actions. The only known survivor of Camp 14, with an estimated 150,000 inmates, he wants to alert the world to the heinous crimes of the North Korean government.
At times, evil prevails. We feel overwhelmed by the sheer cruelty of dictators and other “Dear Leaders.” Helpless to stop such cruelty, the best we can do it to call attention to such atrocities. Our hope is that the public will create enough pressure to force a change.
“What goes on in North Korea is maybe worse than the Holocaust, where the Nazis were active for 12 years,” Yeo-sang, another observer of North Korea said. “The enslavement of the camps in North Korea has been going on for decades.”
In the past the United States and its allies worked to defeat totalitarianism in Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. North Korea is not the only nation to engage in such cruelty today. Why do these nations who determine to destroy their loyal citizens survive? “Why?” We want to know. Who will stop them now?
Like Job, we want God to intervene to remove the cruel monsters. Instead, God reinforces to Job the reality of evil’s presence, and of human ability to oppose it. “He is the first of God’s works; Only his Maker can draw the sword again him,” the Lord says of Behemoth (Job 40:19 JPS). “There is no one on land who can dominate him, made as he is without fear,” the Lord says of Leviathan (41:25). When chaos reigns, as at times it does, we suffer.
We find no easy answers to our questions about the world’s suffering–or about our own. Instead, like Dong-huyk, we do what we can to call attention to injustice, work for freedom of people imprisoned for their beliefs, and call on the Lord to control the chaos.