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Family imprisoned, tortured for journey North Korea – and for their Christian faith

North Korean dwindle drifting over Kim Il Sung block in a capital, Pyongyang.
North Korean dwindle drifting over Kim Il-sung Square in a capital, Pyongyang.

As North Korea’s barb contrast focuses universe courtesy on Kim Jong-un’s regime, one woman’s story shows how cruelly families are treated when they exclude to follow his peremptory rules.

Hannah Cho* was innate usually before a Korean War pennyless out in 1950. She remembered a atmosphere raid sirens and holding on to her father’s behind as they climbed into a plateau to tarry another night of bombing.

After a war, with open sacrament discouraged, her internal church was incited into a school. Her Christian mom continued to urge during home though Hannah and her father kept watch for neighbours who competence surprise a authorities about her faith.

“If anyone came close, we’d cough and she’d stop praying,” Hannah said. “Sometimes my father was angry with her and didn’t wish her praying in a vital room so she went outside, even when it was snowing. Once we sent my nine-year-old daughter after her to cover her adult with a blanket.”

Hannah wanted to know her mother’s faith though she spoke so quick when she prayed that it was formidable to understand: “All we could make out was: ‘Hananim! Hananim! – Lord! Lord! Help.’”

“We had no thought who this ‘Hananim’ was. My daughter even asked her one day since she wouldn’t simply revisit this masculine if he was that critical to her. My mom replied: ‘One day we will.’”

Hannah (L) praying with her eldest daughter.
Hannah (L) praying with her eldest daughter, Apr 2017

“Because of my mum’s prayers, we was never as indoctrinated by a Juche [self-reliance] beliefs as others,” Hannah said. “Especially after she told me how we was born. My relatives married during Japanese function (1910-1945). My father had been married before, though he was incompetent to have children with his initial wife. And my silent was also incompetent to conceive. But someone told her that if she prayed to Jesus she would have a baby. For roughly 8 years she prayed. And then, not prolonged after a Second World War, we was born.”

Hannah’s mom pronounced zero to her about her Christian faith until her matrimony during a age of 23.

Life in North Korea grew some-more formidable for Hannah after her marriage.

“I gimlet 6 children, dual of them died really early on. we still have 3 daughters and a son. My father used to work in a factory, though when a economy collapsed there was no some-more work, and no some-more income.”

“I had to caring for my family. we had all kinds of jobs. In a bureau and also offered things on a black market. we trafficked from a easterly of a nation to a west. Because we was roving illegally, many times we had to burst from a sight before it came to a finish stop. Once, my leg got stranded and we was badly injured. The injury, a complicated work and a hardships shop-worn my spine. we can’t straighten my behind anymore. Sometimes we carried complicated solidified beef adult a mountains, so we could after sell it on a black market. This cost me my finger and toe nails. There was never any income for correct medical care.”

After Hannah’s mom died, she and her family motionless to leave North Korea for China.

“My eldest daughters were initial to flee, though they were tricked by a broker. They were ostensible to accommodate with a relations of my father though were sole into matrimony to bad Chinese farmers. Fortunately, they were sole to families in a same village, so could stay in hold with any other.

“When we didn’t hear from them, my father went to China to try to find them. Meantime, we took caring of my dual youngest children during home. My father didn’t come back; a year later, we went to demeanour for them all in China. At first, we couldn’t locate my husband. we worked on a Chinese plantation as a maid, though didn’t accept any money. we had mislaid all that was dear to me. we prayed to God with a usually difference we knew: “Hanonim, Hanonim! – Lord, Lord! Please help!” Finally, we found my husband’s relations and he connected me with my husband, though my daughters were still missing.”

Hannah’s father went behind to North Korea to collect a dual youngest children, who’d stayed with family, and take them behind opposite a limit to China. He also detected where a dual comparison daughters were.

“A few weeks after a whole family was reunited in China,” Hannah said.

The family staid into their new life together and started to attend a church of a relative, where they all converted to a Christian faith.

“We had seen my mother’s faith, though now we accepted it,” Hannah said. “We felt assent in a hearts and unaccountable joy. It was so refreshing, as if a specks in my eyes had been cleared divided and we could finally see God. Now we could follow Him like my mom had. The priest taught us about Christ and a Christian life. Our faith grew really fast since we had been prepared all a lives for this moment.”

After dual weeks a dual eldest daughters went behind to their Chinese families. “They were safer there,” Hannah said, “but we betrothed any other to stay in touch.”


Sadness shortly followed a fun of a family reunion.

“We were detected by Chinese tip agents and arrested. They altered us from jail to jail until we were finally sent behind to North Korea. We’d frequency arrived when we witnessed a terrible scene. A lady in jail was profound by a Chinese man. Race is really critical in North Korea: a pristine competition might never be defiled. To brew Korean blood with Chinese blood is a terrible ‘sin’,” Hannah said.

“The lady gave birth in prison, though afterwards a ensure systematic her to kill her baby, though she couldn’t. The ensure threatened another woman, revelation her he would let her live if she killed a baby. He put his gun to her conduct and a invalid had no other choice though to suppress a baby until he died. And we had to watch.

The family were distant in a jail – her father and teenage son in a masculine wing, Hannah and daughter with a women. They were beaten and interrogated. When that was over they were forced to kneel in their cells – infrequently from 5 a.m. until midnight, and not speak.

“My father was treated badly. He told a guards he’d turn a Christian. Later, he told us he had no choice. After he saw what they did with a baby and a guards threatened to kill his family, he had to tell them a truth. After his confession, all 4 of us were sealed adult in unique confinement–a tiny cage. We didn’t accept any food or H2O and couldn’t sleep,” Hannah said.

“Prisoners in unique capture were badly beaten. Nobody dared conflict since you’d usually make a woe worse. But my father was different. The some-more they tortured him, a harder he shielded his faith. He yelled during them: ‘If desiring in God is a sin, I’d rather die! Just kill me! It’s my goal to live according to God’s will!’

“Each time he spoke out opposite them, they nude his garments and kick him adult as if he was an animal. His strength was ripped and ripped. When he mislaid consciousness, they woke him and started again.

“I felt tighten to dying. we was droughty and beaten until we was comatose too. When we woke up, we was dragged behind to a unchanging dungeon with my daughter and other womanlike inmates. Then they kick me in front of them. All my daughter could do was cry silently, that she did day and night.

“Of course, we prayed via a time in prison. One day, a whole family was called out of a jail cell. That was a bad omen. Usually when people are taken from their cells during a night they are eliminated to a stay for domestic prisoners.

“When we got to a office, there were dual masculine prisoners. we famous my son, though a other was in such a bad shape, we didn’t commend my father and he didn’t commend me. That’s how horrible we looked from all a torture. His ribs and collarbone were broken, so he couldn’t even mount adult straight. But we satisfied it was him.

“We were in front of a jail deputy, watchful to hear a verdict. We all desperately prayed for a miracle. We didn’t wish to humour and die in a domestic restrained camp. But a emissary gave us a special amnesty. When we walked out of a jail that night and were finally giveaway and alone, we sensitively sang a hymn.

Separated again

“We went to a aged home to recover, though we still feared for a lives. Life in North Korea was too dangerous and too hard. My father suggested that we take my daughter initial and go behind to China. ‘Don’t demeanour for a job,’ he said. ‘Just go to a church where we will be helped. we will come with a son in about a month.’

“I did what he pronounced and reached a church safely with a daughter. A month went by. No word from my husband. Then, a second month, a third, a fourth… we waited 3 years. Then we found out that he had died shortly after we left North Korea. He was never means to overcome a pain and illnesses from prison.

“My son could not cranky a stream by himself. He is still in North Korea. we haven’t seen or oral to him in many years. we will never give adult wish of anticipating him.

“About dual years ago we found out that he is still alive and lives with a family member. We were even means to phone any other once. we now live in South Korea. My initial and third daughter are here with me. My second daughter lives in China with her husband. She is still during risk of being detected and sent back. we wish one day we will be reunited in South Korea with that daughter and my son.

“My mom usually taught me one prayer. But we still urge it each day, for my family and for my country: “Hanonim, Hanonim! – Lord, Lord, greatfully help!”

* Name altered for confidence reasons

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