The following is from Proletarian Online, the website of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). The CPGB-ML introduces the article, saying “The following article first appeared in the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on 5 February. We reproduce it here with thanks.”
What is especially interesting to note is that since the DPRK magnanimously released Robert Park, a Korean American who illegally entered the DPRK carrying printed materials demanding that Kim Jong Il step down from power and be put on trial for war crimes, he has not retracted this statement. Nor, it would appear, has he made any statements against the DPRK, despite, we can be quite sure, very considerable pressure to do so, and much to the embarrassment of such anti-communist bodies as Christian Solidarity Worldwide, who noisily campaigned for his release.
American national Robert Park was detained for trespassing on the northern border of the DPRK in December last year.
He was interviewed by KCNA at his proposal while he was under investigation by the relevant organ of the DPRK.
During the interview, he said that he was taken in by the false rumour spread by the West and committed a criminal act in the end.
He went on to say:
“I trespassed on the border owing to a wrong understanding of the DPRK. This was caused by the West’s false propaganda.
“The West is massively feeding Children of the Secret State, Seoul Train and other documentary videos with stories about non-existent ‘human rights abuses’ and ‘mass killings’ in the DPRK, along with stories of the ‘unbearable sufferings’ of Korean christians and the like.
“This false propaganda led me, a christian, to entertain a biased view of the DPRK.
“I didn’t know what to do at that time, so I just prayed and fasted. That was my initial response, but, year by year, more news reports and international media reports came and there were more videos saying the same thing. In fact, they were saying that it was getting worse, and so that’s why I started to become more and more distraught.
“I thought that if there are people in concentration camps, if christians are dying like this, if there is starvation, I have to die with them. If I help them, I would go to heaven but if I don’t help them, I would go to hell.
“At last, I made up my mind to go to the DPRK.
“Upon trespassing on the border, I thought I would be either shot to death by soldiers or thrown behind bars. However, the moment I crossed the border, the attitude of soldiers toward the trespasser made me change my mind about the false propaganda I had believed.
“Not only service personnel, but all those I met in the DPRK treated me in a kind and gentlemanly manner and protected my rights.
“People have been incredibly kind and generous here to me, very concerned for my physical health as never before in my life. I mean, my family, of course, is concerned about my physical health, but people here have been constantly concerned, and I’m very thankful for their love.
“Another shocking fact I experienced during my stay in the DPRK is that religious freedom is fully ensured in the DPRK, a reality different from what is claimed by the West.
“Being a devout christian, I thought such things as praying are unimaginable in the DPRK due to the suppression of religion.
“I gradually became aware, however, that I was wrong.
“People neither regarded praying as something unusual nor disturbed it. I was provided with conditions for praying every day as I wished.
“What astonished me more was that a bible was returned to me.
“This fact alone convinced me that religious freedom is fully ensured in the DPRK.
“I came to have stronger belief as I had an opportunity to attend the service in the Pongsu Church in Pyongyang.
“I worshipped and there, there was the preacher, there was a pastor, there was a choir, they knew the hymns, they knew the word of God. That’s why I was completely amazed. I began to weep and weep in the christian service, because I learned that there are churches and christians such as Pongsu Kyohoe (church) in different cities and regions all throughout the DPRK. They worship, pray and preach freely the word of the Bible and Christ’s word.
“What I have seen and heard in the DPRK convinced me that I misunderstood it. So I seriously repented of the wrong I committed, taken in by the West’s false propaganda.
“I would not have committed such a crime if I had known that the DPRK respects the rights of all the people and guarantees their freedom, and that they enjoy a happy and stable life.
“I have felt shock, embarrassment, shame. Here, I’m in the land where people respect human rights, and, not just respecting human rights, they have actually loved me and showed me more than just human rights. They have shown me grace.
“I repent and ask for forgiveness to the DPRK for my misunderstanding of the country’s reality and my criminal illegal behaviour. Had I known the reality of the DPRK, what I’ve learned here, what I have been shown here, what I’ve been taught here, what I’ve been informed by all the kind people here about the DPRK, I would have never done what I did on 25 December and I repent and I’m very sorry.”
Finally, he, as a Christian, expressed his will to earnestly pray so that reunification may be achieved and peace settle on the Korean Peninsula as early as possible.