North Korea should not be included in the Olympics
Courtesy | Ian Patterson [Creative Commons]
Just like many of you, this summer I sat down and watched the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. Waiting for the United States to enter the stadium, I was shocked as 56 athletes entered the stadium from North Korea. Seeing citizens from a country where such inhumane ruling and strict censoring controls every action of the people, I was honestly mad.
I don’t think that North Korea should be allowed to participate in any world event because of the way the government treats its people. The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rules by brutality and intimidation. Articles from the Huffington Post and the Miami Herald share rumors about the treatment of North Korean athletes who return home after a performance less than perfectly executed. No one knows exactly what happens because North Korea is so closed; however, these articles suggest treatment that is not too hard to believe. Rumors from the Miami Herald and the Huffington Post, suggest that labor camps and public ridicule are the rewards for those who return to North Korea after performing ‘poorly’. How different a fate than that of our athletes!
The National Geographic documentary, “Inside North Korea” gives us a rare, but fascinating look into the mysterious lives of North Koreans that dispels any lingering apathy. This documentary followed a doctor who was permitted into the country to perform cataract corrective surgery. When all the surgeries were done, patients and family members gathered together as the bandages were removed and many people saw for the first time. Every single person there who received their sight back instantly went to the front of the room to a picture of Kim Jong Il and paid their respects ten-fold. They count him as the giver of all things good. In their eyes, he can do no wrong. One older woman went to the picture and fell to the ground sobbing in gratitude.
“Great General, I will work harder at the salt mines to get more salt to bring you more happiness. Thank you, very much!” she said.
The next person to receive their sight was an older man, who approached the image thanking the Great Leader in his own way.
“With these eyes that I’ve received, I will grab a gun and kill every one of the American enemies and terminate them from this earth!”
Each person’s comments were followed by a standing ovation and chantings of praise to their Great Leader. The journalist working on the documentary made the observation that there was no difference in North Korea between true belief and true fear. The people are so afraid of torture, for themselves and their families, that they have convinced themselves that their ruler is without fault.
Also in this documentary, a guard who escaped North Korea through China shared memories from his time working in family camp known as number 22. He explained that the people in this concentration camp were themselves not guilty of any crimes, but were family members of those accused of crimes against the country’s “Great Leader.” He said that extended family could be placed in such a camp for family members simply complaining about the rations they received for that month. How many times do we complain about food in the cafeteria? I watched this documentary and tears streamed down my face. These people are severely brainwashed, oppressed and are deprived of the basic human right of freedom.
It is hard to look at a country so depraved and indifferent to the value of human life and see hope for these people. Last year during Missions Conference the Global Awareness interactive tours brought to light persecution in various countries, including North Korea. Soon after Missions Conference, Biola’s Coalition for Social Action hosted a Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) feature film. Through both of these sources, awareness was spread and is continuing to spread. Liberty in North Korea is a growing movement that was started by college students, just like us, and works with refugees from North Korea. Reading about this oppression is tough, but through social justice ministries we can get involved and actually do something about this issue.
I know the Olympics are over and we can’t go back and keep North Korea from competing, but maybe through social justice ministries we can have a better influence and louder voice on the issue. It’s because of the oppression that the North Korean government should not be recognized as a country worthy of participating in a world event. Allowing them to do so validates the treatment of their people.