Kim Jong-Il’s Death: Some Thoughts

20 12 2011

On December 19th, 2011 (Korean Time) the second generation of DPRK’s dictatorship ended with the passing of Kim Jong-Il. A deluge of facebook statuses, tweets and blogs seemed to have turned their attention to the rather unexpected news the death of the ‘Dear Leader’ in order to announce, describe and even predict the nature and effect of the event. For those interested in doing some reading concerning the event, check out the following articles: Washington Post’s “North Korea after Kim Jong-Il“, Times:World Blog’s “The Korea: To Reunify or Not?“, Nautilus Institute’s “Kim Jong-Il’s Death Suggests Continuity Plus Opportunity to Engage“, DailyNK’s “A Rare Breed of Dictator Is Gone“, Korea Economic Institute’s “10 People You Need to Know for Transition in NK“.

Many have predicted, or maybe just hoped, for the opening of the NK borders and the falling of the regime with Kim Jong-Il’s death as the potential catalyst. Adrian Hong, with an article in Foreign Policy titled “How to Free North Korea“, argues that NK will inevitably fall and that it is only a matter of “when and how”. He adds that it is the moral responsibility of the global community to organize and be active in the process instead of waiting:

This much is clear: North Korea will fall. It is simply a question of when and how. But it is far better to have a coordinated, controlled landing, at the time of one’s choosing, instead of waiting for the worst to happen at any moment. And a reunified, free Korea can be a powerful force for good in the world, and a potent economic engine.

But missing this opportunity to bring Pyongyang into the international community would be a grievous error. North Korea’s crimes do not end at its own borders. Beyond state-sponsored acts of terror, kidnappings, and assassination attempts of foreign government officials, human rights activists, and defectors, it has also sold weapons, missiles, technology, and nuclear materials to a who’s who of unfriendly countries, including Egypt, Iran, Libya, Myanmar, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It has engaged in the counterfeiting of U.S. currency, mass government-sanctioned insurance fraud, and the exportation of North Korean slaves all over the world.

North Korea is not a modern nation-state. It does not exist for the welfare of its populace, nor to safeguard the rights of it’s citizens. It exists for the sole benefit of the king and his barons — a ridiculously-scaled Mafia criminal state — and must be treated as such.

The very progress of our global civilization is for naught if we continue to let the very idea of North Korea exist. North Korea is not a failed state, with warlords fighting for land and treasure. Its atrocities do not stem from factional fighting, crimes of passion, or mob violence. It is on another level entirely — a staggering system entirely built and mastered for the express purpose of propagating human suffering and ensuring the continued exploitation of the people so that the very few can benefit.

It is a moral obligation of the highest order that the international community intervene. What can be done, we must do — and now is the time.

The political, international and global implications are of great interest to me, but my knowledge on such perspectives are limited. And ultimately, the eternal perspective on the effect of this death event seems to me of greater importance. So what are the implications (from an eternal perspective)? In some ways nothing. As one of my professor likes to say “[God] is God, and we are not. He is God and there is no other.” (From God with Us). Kim Jong-Il is dead and God is alive. Kim Jong-Il will answer to God in all he did as any ‘good’ or ‘evil’ man will. Joe Carter makes an interesting comparison in the post “The Shared Fate of Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-Il“, the former was a good man and the latter, despicable, and yet without Christ their end fate is the same: condemnation. As true and important is the message of Carter’s blog, I don’t find it particularly helpful for the occasion. Is the Gospel Coalition so concerned to protect the gospel of grace from the intrusion of works, that the millions in NK who have no access to the gospel of grace is of lesser concern? These may be erred assumptions but the sense one gets is a business to protect rather than to advance the gospel. While articles like Hong’s are optimistic, in an ephemeral perspective, towards the opening of the country, where is the eternal perspective and the optimism of the Church for gospel advancement in NK? Ed Stetzer and Justin Taylor start us possibly in the right way, but more is needed. Stetzer and Taylor call for prayer, and yes, in that sense, God will work his eternal plan. Maybe NK will not follow suit to the revolutions of the Middle East, but I cannot help but hope that the Church is ready. That is, when NK opens, however it will open, the Church be ready, not merely with gospel tracks to hand out or with just arms length evangelism, but with up-close, personal, live-with evangelism, to be ready to give the gospel with our lives and not just our words.

Isn’t it rather ironic that the Korean War is technically not over, and yet the Korean people (particularly the South) live as if it is peace time? The irony lies in the similarity of the Christian illusion to spiritual peace. How often does the Christian Church live as if there is peace, that there is no spiritual war raging on? It may be that NK does not open up for a while, maybe not even in the lifetime of the “Great Successor” Kim Jong-Eun. But the question remains. Will the Church be prepared to invade the vacuum of religion in the people of NK or will that opportunity, when presented, slip through her fingers?

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3 responses

20 12 2011
Banking Nerd (@Banking_Nerd)

I’m not 100 pct sure I got the Havel V Jong-Il bit. So no matter how much good or bad I do in life, I will still go to hell if I’m not a proper church going christian? Stupid question perhaps, but I honestly dont know, what does it take to be “christian enough”?

20 12 2011
Paul Park

It’s not a stupid question, though I don’t know if I would want to use the phrase “christian enough.”

The point about Havel vs Jong-Il is this: No matter how much good one does, it cannot gain them ‘credit’ enough to pay off the debt that they owe God. In fact, not only does every person owe God a debt of rebellion (sins), but even our so-called good deeds are tainted. We owe an eternal debt which deserves an eternal payment, thus, hell is that eternal payment, UNLESS an eternal God pays that debt for us. That is where Jesus comes in. The He paid the eternal debt on the cross, and only by acknowledging that Jesus paid that debt FOR you could Havel or Jong-Il gone to heaven.

So to be brief, it is “enough” if you accept that Jesus paid your debt for you (past, present and future, you can’t incur any more debt), and because of Him not only is your bad credit wiped clean, but you have awesome credit (Jesus’ credit).

I hope that helps.

2 01 2012
Lilies

I think as a Christian, writing a blog entry on a famous person who died – especially one who didn’t know Christ is never an easy task. Anyone could blog about it, but writing a piece that’s not only true/biblical, but also sensitive, thoughtful and not over-simplified can be tricky.

Appreciate your approach and what you wrote on it (and the links as well).

This blog entry came to mind again as I heard “Red and Black” from Les Misérables earlier today, so was reminded that I hadn’t actually commented on this yet.

Anyway, thanks!

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