17 August 2006

Kim gets religion - Orthodox Church in North Korea

According to Der Spiegel (August 11, 2006) a Russian Orthodox Church has been opened in North Korea.

There's also a blog comment: Russian Orthodox Find Support from Kim Jong-Il

This raises a number of questions -- is Kim Jong Il emulating St Prince Vladimir? If so, will he likewise show a change in his manner of ruling? Will he be baptised? Will he allow his subjects to be baptised? Or will it just be a kind of showpiece?

There are other precedents too -- we can but pray.

More reports:

Pravda has a brief report.

The Guardian has a longer report, quoting North Korean official sources.

The Raw Story suggests that the church will be primarily for the use of Russian diplomats and other visiting Russians, but in that case, why go to the length of training Korean clergy??

But this is also the tenor of a somewhat older report from Keston College when the church was first mooted.

None of the reports say what language will be used in the services, though from the last two it seems they will probably be in Slavonic or Russian, and would not be of much help to locals who attend.

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Nathan said...

Unfortunately, in the words of a previous post of yours, be skeptical. Be very, very skeptical. In the Guardian article we read "the North Korean government will ``successfully manage and operate the church,'' said Ho Il Jin, the chairman of the Korean Orthodox Church Committee". Control by a totalitarian state is going to lead to the same sorts of problems that led to the formation of ROCOR.

We can only hope and pray, of course.

Steve Hayes said...

Well there are two things that seem to be a bit incompatible. On the one hand, several reports said that it would be for Russian diplomats and visitors. But if that was the case, they could just have brought priests from Russia.

But they sent people from Korea to train in theology in Russia. So even if, initially, the services are all in Slavonic, you have Korean clergy, who could form the nucleus of a Korean church. One should not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit.

Nathan said...

"One should not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit"

Indeed. And I certainly hope God uses this for His glory in North Korea. Certainly He can do all things, and any movement in this direction is a tiny improvement. I pray it does not turn into a propaganda excuse for persecution as in China. We do live in interesting times.


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