FoxNews | Caleb Parke | Feb. 13, 2019
“Prisoner 42” shares about surviving after being a prisoner in a maximum-security prison in North Korea. (Open Doors USA)
She survived what seemed like a death sentence after fleeing to China during a famine to feed her family. Watchdog organization Open Doors USA estimates she was one of 250,000 imprisoned North Koreans—50,000 of whom are political prisoners jailed for their Christian faith. She spent one year in solitary confinement and was released after two years of hard labor.
North Korea has been the No. 1 persecutor of Christians on the group’s annual list for 18 years now. Open Doors was hopeful that diplomatic efforts — including the 2018 Winter Olympics and the Trump-Kim summit — would mean easing pressure and violence against Christians. But that has not been the case.
Christ followers are still seen as a “threat” to the Kim family’s ideology and quickly erased from society either by death, detention centers, re-education camps, or maximum-security hard labor prison campus known as Kwan-li-so.
In an interview with Open Doors, “42” recounted how each morning when they would call for her, she would crawl out of a door flap — typically used for dogs or cats — and keep her head bowed low because she was not allowed to make eye contact with the guards. Then for an hour, they would ask her the same questions: “Why were you in China? Who did you meet? Did you go to church? Did you have a Bible? Did you meet any South Koreans? Are you a Christian?”
She said she had to lie to stay alive.
“Am I a Christian? Yes. I love Jesus. But I deny it. If I admit that I was helped by Chinese Christians, I will be killed, either quickly or slowly,” she said. “They will murder me in this North Korean prison. Every day, I’m beaten and kicked—it hurts the most when they hit my ears. My ears ring for hours, sometimes days.”
She said in her year in solitary confinement, she was trapped in a cold cell and never saw sunlight or a single soul.
“I spent one year in prison, and for one year my skin didn’t touch a single ray of sunlight,” she said.
So she prayed and sang a song she wrote in her head — but never out loud.