Interview with North Korea border crosser Robert Park

December 30, 2009

KOREA-NORTH/CROSSING

 (Photographs by Lee Jae-won)

North Korea said on Tuesday it had  detained a U.S. citizen who entered its territory, apparently confirming a report that an American activist crossed into the
state to raise awareness about Pyongyang’s human rights abuses.   Robert Park, 28, walked over the frozen Tumen river from
China and into the North last Friday, other activists said. The Korean-American told Reuters ahead of the crossing that it was his duty as a
Christian to make the journey and that he was carrying a letter calling on North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to step down.

Park had an exclusive interview with Reuters last week before starting on his journey. The following are excerpts from the conversation. He requested that the comments be held until he was in North Korea.  

Reuters: Why are you planning to go into North Korea?

Robert Park: The North Korean human rights crisis by murder rate is the worst in the world. An estimated 1,000 people a day die by starvation and starvation is a murder case. North Korea has been sent more food aid than any nation in the world but the food has not gone to the people who need it. So this is murder.

But not only that, there are concentration camps in North Korea that are of the same brutality as in Nazi Germany.

Responsible governments are completely silent about the issue. The United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea have a huge responsibility to speak out about this because all these nations played a role the arbitrary division of the Koreas, where not a single Korean was consulted. Yet the lives of these people are of no issue to these governments. That is a crime. It is a huge crime

What is happening in North Korea is genocide. We know there are legitimate fears about what could happen through nuclear weapons. But a nation that runs concentration camps, a nation that kills men, women and children without any kind of restraint can never be trusted.

We believe the resolution to this whole crisis is simply addressing North Korea honestly about this has to change.

We do not hate people. I am Christian, but I do have to say that this is not a legitimate government. We cannot talk to North Korea as if it is a legitimate government, but we need to liberate North Korea. We need to have a vision for the unification of Korea. It has to happen immediately because people are dying by the thousands every single day.

Reuters: By going into North Korea, how can you change this? You are going in well aware of the dangers

KOREA-NORTH/CROSSING

Park: My demand is that I do not want to be released. I don’t want President Obama to come and pay to get me out. But I want the North Korean people to be free. Until the concentration camps are liberated, I do not want to come out. If I have to die with them, I will. I am Christian and it says in the Bible that we must love the lost. We must love the poor and the needy. We must love them more than ourselves.

(For) these innocent men, women and children, as Christians, we need to take the cross for them. The cross means that we sacrifice our lives for the redemption of others.

I am going in for the sake of the lives of the North Korean people. And if he (Kim Jong-il) kills me, in a sense, I realize this is better. Then the governments of the world will become more prone to say something, and more embarrassed and more forced to make a statement. 

This is serious and it is a crime that America is committing against the North Korean people by not speaking out against this. President Obama just won the Nobel Peace Prize and I love President Obama and the American government, but they are committing a serious crime.

Through the media and through sacrifice, we are looking for the global leaders to be forced to give an account. There is no excuse.

We also want the church to repent. The South Korean church needs to repent. There has been so much playing around and honestly, there is no time to play games. The priority of every single person in South Korea must be to end this holocaust of lives.

I was going to go next month but what happened was that here in Korea there has been certain things that have endangered my going next month. That is why I am going right now. Because certain people have found out and are trying to prevent me from going.

Initially Christmas Day was what they were thinking of. It is the coldest time. It is the most difficult time for me to go physically and also on Christmas Day it is such a symbolic day. Worldwide is the most renowned day. It is the happiest day for most of the world but for North Korea, it is like hell.

I have to share their suffering. That is why I am asking every person who cares about North Korea, let us arise and let us demonstrate. Let us see mass demonstrations. This is not a personal agenda. 

I think I may not live much longer. My personal desire is to be married and to have a future. I am laying that all down because of Jesus Christ and because God loves these people, he does not want them to die.

Reuters: Do you think you will be able to get support from governments including the United States because you are making this choice on your own, fully aware of what may well happen?

Park: I want Kim Jong-il and the North Korean government to know that I love them. I love all these people. I am going in because it has to change, for the sake of the children, the men and the women who are being brutally murdered.

But as long as this genocide continues, I have no choice. I have great sorrow for Kim Jong-il. The North Korean people have been brainwashed from youth and they do not know what the truth is.

I had a vision on July 27, which was the beginning of the demonstration movement. I am not someone who was a part of the human rights movement officially. I was someone who was praying and sharing in the physical help of refugees one by one. I had a vision where God revealed that there needs to be a mass demonstration movement for North Korean human rights. That there will be liberation of the North Korean people. There will be a global compensation movement for a measurable loss and suffering. There will be calls for unification. And there will be reconciliation between North and South Koreans.

I am making this choice on my own because it is too slow right now. There has never been a mass demonstration for North Korean human rights and there needs to be.

Last year, there were hundreds of thousands of people in South Korea demonstrating for this ridiculous thing about the kind of beef we were getting in South Korea. There was nothing to it. What does it say about our generation that we can be mobilised to demonstrate about the kind of beef we are getting and we cannot demonstrate for people who are our own kin who are dying by the thousands every day for no reason at all.

One of the issues in South Korea is that there has been a competition among North Korean human rights groups. People are saying that ‘I want to be in the leadership’. It is ridiculous. With that kind of political fighting, trying to be number one, there will never be mass demonstrations because people are selling the issue for their own gain. I am not saying that everyone is doing that.

My hope is that through going to North Korea, my sacrifice, that there will be a profound repentance among the church and also among human rights ministries – that there will not longer be quarrelling and competition.

Reuters: Do you see the possibility of your imprisonment helping Kim Jong-il. The North Korean leaders have used others, like the U.S journalists, who have crossed into its territory as bargaining chips. Do you see your actions as having the potential to help the North Korean leaders you want to see removed?

Park: I am aware of this and have been hesitating for a long time.  As a result of what happened to the journalists, I was speaking to a refugee friend of mine, she said it was one of the best things that happened for North Korea’s liberation. This was shortly after it happened and they were freed. But now it has become worse because the journalists have not spoken out about the human rights crisis. They were ransomed for a lot of money and they went home and wrote a book.

Ultimately, I am more tortured if I allow North Koreas to be like this. The difference with these journalists is that they were kidnapped against their will. I am going in saying either kill me or take me. I am saying to the governments of the world, do not try to ransom me out but address the human rightscrisis.

54 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

I hope Steve Park’s brave action has a lasting ripple effect in Christendom; especially throughout Korean and Korean-American Christians worldwide. “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Posted by underthevine | Report as abusive

I agree with everything that Robert Park is saying and pray that his actions will help to unite Christians, the world over, to speak out boldly about the atrocities.

Posted by Rosanne | Report as abusive

This is ridicules. Why is that every American is hell bent on getting publicity? The man should stay out of North Korea help those he can find directly…what a brave, stupid man!

Posted by chosenmannot | Report as abusive

This man should stay out of korea

Posted by chosenmannot | Report as abusive

Robert is my friend and trust me, we have tried to talk him out of it. He understands that his chances of survival are very slim. He is not doing this for publicity for himself – he is doing it for the sake of dying people.

Does he deserve to be cursed for that?

We should be humbled by him. There are not many people left in this world who will peacefully give up their life so others can live.

Posted by yoonieman | Report as abusive

As for his history, he has moving North Korean refugees around China for 10 years until he got kicked out. He then lived with the homeless in South Korea until he got deathly ill.

Now he giving up his life so others can live.

Posted by yoonieman | Report as abusive

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

As a follower of Christ, reading this article highlights my own selfishness and desire for security and comfort. Robert is living out our faith and standing up for our brothers and sisters in the DPRK. The LORD can accomplish great things through a willing heart and I hope and pray that we will see the day that those in bondage and oppression in North Korea are liberated.

This radical, self-denying love is what all of us followers of Christ submit to when we choose to follow Him. It’s time for us to start living it. Myself included.

Posted by zs1027 | Report as abusive

[...] You can learn more about Park and his gOd-inspired mission here and here. [...]

vaya con Dios.

Posted by CristicCross | Report as abusive

This man is invokeing the power of god if the Leaders of Christianity are truly for Christ they will rally behind him in Public Prayer.

Posted by CristicCross | Report as abusive

If u think this guy is crazy read about a guy named Paul in Acts Ch. 20 thru 24. God Bless him, may the annointing of Jesus Christ go with him and change the world!!!

Posted by Blamejesus | Report as abusive

God bless Robert Park. What difference is there between millions killed by starvation over two decades and millions killed by nuclear war over two seconds? The idea that “security” in the form of six party talks as wholly separate from human rights is a lie that Robert Park has poignantly exposed. Murder is murder is murder.

Posted by shazam | Report as abusive

By Robert Park’s comments in this interview, it is obvious that his motives, strategies and goals are well thought out; he is not rash or impulsive. He deserves the admiration and support of Christians and other human rights activists. However, we miss the boat (that Robert is on) if we make this a story about Robert Park and neglect the plight of the North Koreans. More than just rallying behind ROBERT in public prayer, are there those who, like Robert, will pray and live and act for the sake of NORTH KOREANS?

Posted by capnintl | Report as abusive

This tactic will not work.

North Korea will not let go of power by its own will. Like China, it is a long running dictatorship with no intention of changing their ways.

The people of North Korea are too brainwashed to rise up against the regime. And even if they were not, they won’t even hear of this due to censorship. And even if they did hear of it, they would be repressed by one of the largest standing armies on the planet.

The world will not put sanctions on North Korea, because China has the Veto and supports North Korea as an ally.

And even if the world does put sanctions on North Korea, this will probably cause the beginning of a very ugly and potentially nuclear war. Tens of thousands would surely die as a minimum.

So what was this guy thinking? He is probably simply nuts or an attention seeker. If so, he needs to get professional medical treatment for his mental illness.

However, if his freedom comes at the costs of making political concessions to North Korea and strengthening their regime, then he almost deserves to rot in a concrete cell for being a bloody nuisance.

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive

Prayer.
If God is working to free the oppressed in North Korea (and He is!) then He will do it through the prayers of His people.
What Robert Park is doing should and will cause many Christians to fall on their knees before God on behalf of North Korea.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2Chron 7:14

Posted by shannonvr | Report as abusive

I agree that we need to support Robert through prayer and advocacy. If you wish to support him further, please join the facebook group “support robert park” for updates and joining together with other supporters.

Posted by kelseyh725 | Report as abusive

surely noone should be held captive for there religious views providing it is done courteously & politely? Robert is a very brave young man, seen as some as an attention seeker or simply foolish. But the facts of the case speak for themselves for the people of North Korea are oppressed & cannot voice their feelings unless they are prepared for the consequences. Thousands are detained in perilous conditions of hardship, hunger, beatings etc and countless thousands have lost their lives. Robert Park is a ‘voice crying in the wilderness’ of the world. May God grant him strength & wisdom & moreover success in his endeavours

Posted by releasecaptives | Report as abusive

I met Robert 2 years ago. He is no publicity seeker. He is simply sold out to his Lord. Reuters has done a great service to the world by letting Robert speak in his own words. His passion, dedication and humility are to be admired. He has entered into a new circle of heroes of the faith. Blessings my friend, for you to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Posted by adpastor | Report as abusive

im praying for Robert Parks,a brave dedicated christian

Posted by lizibet | Report as abusive

If I wanted publisity, I would only speak in a way to atract attention to myself, promise that I would do such and such thing and go to North Korea and gain time so that my publicity grows, then I would just keep talking, but I would never go and wait the news reporters to ask me for interviews.

If I was crazy, I would not show simpathy and unselfish love for people that I don’t know.

Though I don’t agree that another life needs to be given to arouse people concience.(One has done that already for all of us, including Norht Korea,Jesus christ)I respect and admire the courage of Robert and is noble intentions,we are very close to the time that all goberments worldwide will be soon to be remove from power, ALL have been found deficient, corrup, and looking their own interests not their people.

Gods Kingdom in Jesus hands will end all suffering and injustice. So we can pray “Thy Kingdom come.Thy will be done in hearth, as it is in heaven.

I know that God can and will save all honesthearted ones in all the world that have been suffering for so long, in North Korea, Africa and everywhere. How do i know that? If we as imperfect as we are, feel sorry by just reading an email of a brave person that wants to do something to change the situation in that country, how much more so Jehovah and Jesus Christ might feel being perfect and watching all suffering in every corner of the planet, THEY WILL very soon change things worldwide. What about all the soroow, pain, that has already happen? someone might ask. As you and I can undo any writting with a push of a button, They can and will undo all past and present pain and scars in the heart,so any bad memory will be erased, so not only Robert and Norht Korea but the entire world will enjoy peace, happiness and unity with one worldwide goberment, a heavenly one, Gods Kingdom, a Goberment that hates divisions,borders,injustice,corruption, wars, poverty,illness, death,suffering,genocides,all that causes pain and sorrow.

Posted by riclau_75 | Report as abusive

Park needs our prayer support. Not all of us can do what he has done, yet this is exactly what God requires of each one of us who claim to be Christians. The Bible says, “there is no greater love than this: that one should lay down his life for others.” But we can stand with Park – we can move the hand that moves the world – the hand of God. God is able to save with a few or with a mighty army. Let’s pray that God’s Spirit would move in power to touch the hearts of our leaders and bless the sacrifice of our brother – Robert. God can do it. “It’s not by power nor by might, but by the Spirit of the Lord,” says the Lord of hosts.

Posted by Mgonjetsi | Report as abusive

Well said, Mgonjetsi, and I agree with most of it, BUT I hope we will go a little further than prayer alone. If he who is praying is not willing to take any action himself then I think God’s ears will be closed to his prayers. We should seek to do our utmost for the tortured and mutilated people in the dark camps of the DPRK, and bring only the things we cannot do in prayer to God. And let our prayers be short and to the point, try not to win a prize with praying, God sees our heart!

Posted by DavidKOHannah | Report as abusive

It’s a pity Reuters only gives excerpts of its interview with Robert Park. In the recordings of the interview on YouTube (see user ceunkkum69 on YouTube) it comprises much more, e.g. also more emotional stuff. Since the sound of those recordings is not that good, you’re not able to hear all thoughts that have been expressed. Is there anyway anybody has the complete text of this so important interview?

Posted by DavidKOHannah | Report as abusive

…right
surely god loves the north koreans too!
although he created the world and the conditions for the north koreans to suffer… oh well, nevermind the fact that god is the one that is making them suffer, he’ll surely support the guy helping them. right? i read somewhere about he’s going to help the guy through the prayers of other people? right.

brainwashed… look who’s talking ahahaha

Posted by johnprice | Report as abusive

Let us pray for Robert.

And let us also pray that great lord Wodin, lord of Midgard and the Aseir, will look down upon the actions of his faithful follower and deliver them from the trickster Jotunn Loki, whom the North Koreans know as “Kim Il-Sung”.

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive

Please search yourself to see what bothers you so much about Robert Park’s action, and why.
Is it jealousy? Do you feel you cannot love like he does? Is it simply the fact that he’s a christian while you are still denying God (possibly because of what so-called christians [or fallible christians] have done in the past)?
What is your own contribution to the people of North Korea that are being eradicated? Is it more than or less than what Robert Park has done and is still doing?
Search yourSELF for once, and note that that’s what christians (and certainly Robert Park) do as their second nature: searching themSELVES first before they start accusing other people.

Posted by DavidKOHannah | Report as abusive

[...] Park’s Misguided Criticism In an interview given to @Reuters by Robert Park shortly before he wandered across the North Korean border on [...]

Don’t you guys get it???!?!
He doesn’t want us to bail him out! He went there to DIE for the sake of people and his God!!!
He doesn’t want publicity — what good is publicity and fame when you are dead?

It is his heart for the suffering people of NK and conviction for God that takes him journey into death, or perhaps worse than death. He should be respected and we should be ashamed of our inaction and selfishness in comparison. What he wants is that more people would active renounce the oppressive and inhuman government of NK and more nations to take a stand against it instead of throwing some money whenever NK barks at them!

Posted by Koss | Report as abusive

Robert Park is a good friend of mine, and having worked with him side-by-side in ministering to others until he left Tucson, let me assure you he is neither crazy nor misguided: he’s the real deal – a true follower of Christ who is willing to lay down his life as a sacrifice for others. NO NATION – NO MAN – NO WEAPON is more powerful than the God Robert and I serve. It is our PRAYER that will overcome the evil of men and their weaponry. Robert’s act has mobilised me and many others to pray each day for our North Korean brothers and sisters as we pray for Robert and, amazingly, for his captors, as well. Those who call Robert names and disparage him for having the courage to stand for what he believes in are simply cowards who have found a mirror of truth via Robert’s selfless act. They see themselves for who they are…and are not. So do we who call ourselves Christian. We know this is what it’s always been about, a humble willingness to lay down our lives so that others may ultimately live forever through Christ. Our prayers WILL make a difference. God is doing so much more than what we can see. Let us assault the throne of Jahovah with heartfelt prayer, for “the prayers of the righteous avail MUCH.” Pastor V

Posted by Bat | Report as abusive

[...] Nyhedsbureauet Reuters har et længere interview med Robert Park, den 28-årige amerikanske statsborger, der før nytår gik ind over grænsen til Nordkorea, hvor [...]

According to the “logic” of many believers here, those who ridicule Robert are cowards, jealous or bitter.

Could you please inform me, as a humble atheist, exactly what Robert has accomplished in doing? What actual change has his actions caused, or will cause for the people of North Korea?

For that matter, do you believe that a deity (if he existed) would be in the habit of granting prayers like some monotheistic genie? Will praying to God help North Korea become a democracy?

Regime change doesn’t seem to belong in the “act of god” department. Then again, curing AIDS and regrowing limbs doesn’t seem to be there either.

Aside from that, both Kim Jong Ill and Jesus are supposed to be Sons of God. And both have about as much claim to the title, even if Kim has a bit more evidence behind his assertions. So power-wise they would be around equal.

So have at it, theists. What am I missing here?

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive

Hey Anon86,

Thanks for your post. I wanted to take a minute to respond if you don’t mind. Let me start off by saying that as a follower of Jesus, there is so much about Him that I don’t understand. But, when I read about His character and His works in the Bible, I am so drawn to Him because of His love for people.

I do not believe that God is to be approached as a monotheistic genie granting each and every desire that we have. Many times, we pray for things that are not in line with God’s will and detrimental to us. However, as I read through the Bible, I see that God has a deep desire to rescue the oppressed, to set the captives free and bring healing to those in need. So, I know that God’s heart is for these things, but I too, wrestle in the tension when these prayers go unanswered. What I cling to is the fact that God is sovereign and good and there will be a day when His eternal Kingdom will come and there will no longer be any sin, any crying or any pain. Until, then I continue to pray and ask God to work in miraculous ways because I believe He does.

So regarding, North Korea and Robert Park…Do I believe that God can use this situation to bring freedom to the people of North Korea? Yes. Do I believe that Kim Jong-Il could receive this message and repent from the atrocities that he has committed? Yes, but only through the grace of God, who loves Kim Jong-Il. Do I believe that the actions of Robert Park could bring more awareness to the evils going on in North Korea and have more people across the world be informed at the sufferings of innocent men, women and children? Yes.

Now, even if Kim Jong-Il does not repent, does not step down, and does not do anything different, I do not believe that all is lost. Robert was faithful to what he believed in and because of his love for the North Korean people, chose to pay a lofty price for them. But I believe people around the world, both those that follow Christ and those that do not, will be more aware of a human rights violation that has been kept in darkness for so long. And anything in darkness that gets brought to the light is a step in the right direction.

Lastly, when comparing Jesus to Kim Jong-Il, I look at their character along with who they claim to be. I read about the radical love of Jesus in the Bible and the claim that He is the Son of God. Since he claims to be the Son of God, he can only be 1) the Son of God, or 2) a crazy lunatic. He cannot be a great teacher or prophet or anything else, because anyone who is a great teacher that says they are God is mad. When I read about Jesus and what He has done for me, I cannot help but wanting to follow Him. But when I read about Kim Jong-Il and the things he has done, it does not resemble love at all. He is selfish and not concerned about other people. And therefore, his claims to be a sort of god, do not measure up to his actions and his character. He is a human being who has been deceived by evil, but God loves him radically and I believe that God can capture his heart and I pray that it happens.

Posted by zs1027 | Report as abusive

God bless you, Robert Park. We cannot yet know the ultimate outcome of your brave and selfless action, but we can be sure you have followed your heart. And knowing your heart, God will respond to your sacrifice in the way and time of His choosing, not ours. I pray that one day very soon you will find yourself surrounded by the happy people of a free and unified Korea, all working together in the name of Jesus Christ to improve everyone’s life there.

To Anon86 I say that I too once smugly held as you do, blaming God for folly and evil in the world. Then, in an instant He changed my life, and from that point I began to reflect on all the times that He saved my life and for a reason that I now understand, if nothing else. Perhaps your purpose is to challenge our faith. I sincerely hope that is not all He has in store for you. You may one day find liberation in the humbling understanding that you know nothing and control nothing of real significance. God bless you, Anon86.

Posted by ERB | Report as abusive

[...] Reuters interview with Robert Park [...]

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Posted by haoboots | Report as abusive

@ zs1027

Having looked at the bible, and realising it is simply a book written by man, I feel that it provides no reason to conclude the existance of magical creatures.

If you believe that a god must be benevolent, or that Kim cannot be a god because he is cruel, then these are simply arbitary limitations which you place the concept of what a divine being is.

How do you know that God (if he existed) isn’t cruel? Do you really claim to know enough about a supreme being that you can claim to know his motives or feelings towards mankind?

From a practical view, Park has achieved nothing. As he was arrested quite quickly, there is nothing he has shown to us that the world doesn’t know already.

If there was a god, who could so easily control the heart of a dictator like a puppeteer, then it isn’t really up to us whether he chooses to do so or not. So why then, is Park’s actions so important?

If in the alternative, a god doesn’t control men in that way (being a breach of free will) then why pray to a deity to change things at all?

While we are at it, if North Korea becomes a democracy, will you feel that a deity was responsible regardless of the actual cause for the change? Even if, for example, the change is caused by a war?

And if North Korea never becomes a democracy, or becomes a crater in the ground, is a deity responsible for that outcome too?

@ ERB

At no point did I ever blame god for the existance of evil. I merely feel there is no reason to conclude he exists.

I already know that I know nothing, and control nothing in this universe.

You however, smugly believe that you know that a deity exists.

If there was a deity in this universe, there is no way you could know of his existance. Because doing so would require a knowledge of the universe that you simply do not have.

One day, you might realise that. But it matters little in the long run whether you do or not.

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive

Good morning Anon86,

Considering your belief that the Bible was written by man, you make some great arguments. And from a physical standpoint, I believe you; men did write ink on parchments the words of the Bible. But, where we differ is that I believe these men were divinely inspired by God to write what they have written. (The Bible reference for this is 2 Timothy 3:16). And I have to interpret the Bible with the Bible because that is my highest authority. As you correctly pointed out, if it was me saying that Kim could not be a god because he is cruel, then it would be my opinion and I would be placing myself as the highest authority and everything is then subjective.

My first understandings of God came from what is called general revelation. I saw beauty in creation, I experienced unconditional love from my parents, I heard the heartbeat of my first child, I read that the chances of the human eye functioning as it does by chance are the same chances of a tornado going through a junkyard and constructing a fully-functional Boeing 747 from the pieces laying around. As someone with a math/science background, that really got me thinking.

Then, I remember reading the Bible and investigating because general revelation wasn’t enough to understand a divine creator. The Bible and God’s Son, Jesus Christ, are the special revelation of God. Through special revelation I began to understand the person, character and sacrificial love of God. So in answer to your question of whether I know enough about God to understand his motives and feelings to mankind, I would say “yes” and “no.” I believe with all my heart that God loves us as his creation. I believe that everything He does is to bring glory to Himself and draw people to Himself. But I often (rather, more than often!) don’t understand why He does what He does. I wrestle with events like the 2004 tsunami, the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia in the late 70’s, the Rwandan genocide, DARFUR, the list could go on and on.

Now, I also believe evil exists in the world (the reference in the Bible is the creation story and Adam & Eve’s disobedience in Genesis 2-3). So on one hand, I see goodness, love, selflessness, etc. and on the other, I see hate, genocide, and disasters. And I am in the tension because I believe God is sovereign and good, but I also believe that evil exists in the world. But, and this is really important, the two are not dualistic. I believe that God created all things and thus, He also created the possibility of evil. And that’s where our free will comes into play. One of the greatest gifts God has given us is the ability to choose. And some choose evil. And I believe that because of this existence of evil in the world, these terrible events occur. Is God powerful enough to stop these things from happening? Yes. Why does he not? I don’t know. Does He cause these things to happen to smite people? No. Does He love all people and want them all to be in a relationship with Him? Yes. As a result of all of this, I yearn for the day when Jesus will return because with His return, all evil and sin and death will be destroyed forever in His Kingdom (reference is Revelation 20-22).

Your questions regarding God’s control vs. man’s free will are spot on. I wrestle with those things as well. All I know is that Jesus prayed often to His Father, and if He did so, I know I should do so. Plus, I have seen many answers to prayers in my life. But I have also experienced what I, in my humanness, have perceived as unanswered prayers. But I have to remember that I, like Job, am a mere mortal and God is God and it is impossible for me to fully figure Him out (reference is Job 40-42).

So coming back to Robert Park…I believe his actions are so important because of love. Since I believe God is love (reference is 1 John 4:16), and that God loves all people, Robert was following the teachings of God to love people here on earth. And the Bible states that “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). I believe that many people will be challenged and encouraged to love the people of North Korea more because of Robert’s example of selfless love. And because God is a God of love, I believe He will honor Robert’s sacrifice. Exactly how He will remains to be seen.

Posted by zs1027 | Report as abusive

Heavenly Father, please strengthen Robert Park. Help Him to communicate the gospel of good news clearly and powerfully in Your Holy Spirit. He is walking in Christ, please be glorified by Robert’s efforts to lay down his life for the Korean people. Please end the atrocities in the death camps, Lord. Show all of us how to pray and what actions to take to help put an end to the senseless starvations and murders. In Jesus Christ’s precious and holy name. Amen.

Posted by TanyaTW | Report as abusive

I have spent countless hours in prayer rooms with this man of God. He has rocked my world with his faith, his commitment, and his passion for global justice through Christ’s name. He isn’t a joke or a fraud looking for attention. He stands confidently in who he is before God and he lives to please no man.My heart and blessings to him as well as my own tears and prayers for the atrocities of North Korea continuing as we read.

Posted by ErikaFaye | Report as abusive

Clearly this man is of the True Vine. He is one of many who have been led by God to take this message to North Korea. And many have. They are not publicized, because they do this for the Right reason. HEB 13:3.

I was asked to do the same exact thing in 2001. It took me until 2004 to make it as far as the river with my letter.

I did not have the courage to cross and thus, I did not make it in until 2008.

Many have gone, Many will go.

The ember burns strong in NK. The Lord has not forgotten or forsaken them.

Posted by JJF | Report as abusive

If a god created free will, then he created the potential for evil.

Hence, that god would then be the source of all evil. For what evil could exist then, unless that god allowed it?

So in essense, if you pray to a deity for North Korea to change, you waste your time.

Because that deity you pray to either created evil, allows evil, cannot stop evil, doesn’t care, or doesn’t exist.

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive

@Anon86

You’re trying to use logic to argue against faith, which doesn’t work. Faith is inherently not logical, since it is something that people choose to believe and can’t be proven in the same way a mathematical theorem can be proven. If someone tells you that they honestly believe that Jesus was the son of God and that the bible is thw word of God, they have accepted the holiness of the Word. So, regardless of how obvious it may seem to you that the bible is just a series of stories written by man, it is just as obvious to Christians that it is the word of God.

Besides, if their faith leads them to actively do good deeds for others even if it is detrimental to their own well-being or, at the very least, think and hope for good things to happen to others (read: prayer), I think more people should find some sort of faith.

Posted by irunazn112 | Report as abusive

Using logic to argue against faith always works.

The conclusion I make as to what is obvious is logical, and based on logical grounds.

While faith, being inherently illogical, must accordingly lead to an illogical conclusion as to what is obvious.

The final result being that the believer must then assert that for their opinion to be valid, an illogical conclusion and a logical conclusion must be of equal value. Which we know is not the case.

As for the results of faith, who is the better? A person who does good deeds because of their faith, or a person with no faith who does good deeds regardless?

Is the real reason a believer does good deeds, because of the rewards they feel it will bring in the next life? If so, then are such deeds truly selfless?

And would the believer do such things if there was no such reward? An atheist would.

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive

Well, it is just illogical to people who don’t believe. The baseline Truth for Christians is that God is real in the same way you know that the Earth is round – it is just a fact. So any argument that fails to accept that is illogical to believers. Thus, any attempts to use atheist logic fails from the outset.

I also don’t believe that an atheist who helps someone is better than a person of faith who helps someone. Something is gained by both parties, but the prize may just be different for each. I don’t necessarily believe that any act is selfless, whether performed by a Christian or an atheist. There is always something to be gained.

Posted by irunazn112 | Report as abusive

Anon86 & irunazn112:

Faith in God is not illogical, and for a Christian to conceed that it is concerns me. To have faith in God is more logical than to not. There is proof all around us in science and in the natural world that proves the existence of a Supreme Being. Faith in God, to the non-believer, only seems illogical because they are blinded to certain truths.

“If God created free will then he left the scenario open to the existence of evil”: True.

“Therefore God is the source of evil”: False. God leaving the option for evil open does not make God the author of evil. By leaving my front door open I do not create theft. By laying wood in a pile I do not create fire. There is a hole in the God-is-the-source -of-evil theory.

“God allows evil”: true (because he gave us a choice between good and evil and we chose evil)

“God does not stop evil”: sometimes He does, sometimes He doesn’t. Looking back in history there are scenarios of close calls that could have lead to disaster but didn’t. In my own life things happen that either keep me from someone else’s evil or from my own. But admittedly, it’s a lot more difficult to prove this from things that didn’t happen rather than things that did.

“God cannot stop evil”: False. Again, looking at history, there are lots of inexplicable things that have happened that have stopped evil in it’s tracks. I would say ‘read the Bible’ for the most vivid examples, although unless you believe the research that proves the Bible to be a historically accurate document, I don’t expect you to believe what’s written in there.

“God doesn’t care about evil: False. This may not be obvious to a non-believer yet, but there is coming a day when God will put a stop to Satan and his evil forever.

So while faith may not be quite as tangible as a mathematical theorem, it is certainly based on logic! otherwise, how would so many intelligent people have come to know Christ? (Please know that I am not discounting the work of the Holy Spirit, who prepares hearts and opens eyes to the Truth.)

that’s my two-bits…

Posted by mycomment | Report as abusive

While a person’s understanding might be subjective, the rules of logic are not.

Religion is inherently illogical, because it reaches a conclusion for which there is no positive evidence.

It is based only on the self serving assumption that it is correct. It relies on circular reasoning, negative proof, and fails to reach conclusions falling within the observable evidence of the universe.

When people claim that there is ‘proof’ or ‘evidence’ which shows the existence of a deity, they really mean that they have an assumption.

When asked to provide direct evidence to support their claim, however, they will then argue that such evidence is unnecessary or irrelevant.

As religion is based on the assumption that it is true, this means it does not rely on actual evidence. Because no matter how much evidence fails to show the existence of a deity, the theist will favour an unproven assumption over all the real evidence in the universe.

So no. In no way can religion be considered logical. Not by any definition of the term.

To say that religion is based on an assumption, and that anything not complying with that assumption is ‘illogical’, is simply a sign of religion’s failure to conform to logic.

It is not a failure to conform to “Atheist’s logic”, whatever that term might mean. To say that logic comes in two flavours, atheist and theist, is simply absurd.

@ Mycomment

We know through research that the bible references historic events, because we have secondary historic evidence of those events. But do not mistake such research for being proof that the bible’s supernatural claims are true. Or for that matter, that Jesus existed.

-You have admitted that a deity created humans with free will, leading to the possibility that evil can exist.

-This means that humans, as beings with free will, have the potential to be good or evil.

-That deity, by creating humans with free will, granted us the potential to be evil.

-Hence our potential to be evil was intentionally provided to us by that deity.

-So as the deity is supposedly the ultimate source of us and our potential to be evil, the deity is also the ultimate source of all evil.

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive

Great dialogue going on. Now, assuming the existence of a Supreme Being, as I do being a follower of Christ, that Supreme Being had to create the potential for good or evil. If He only created the potential for good, there would be no true followers of His because we’d all be robotic and have no opportunity not to follow Him. And love would not exist because it wouldn’t be love at all, it would be forced and predetermined. Just because this Supreme Being created the potential for evil does not mean that this Supreme Being being is the source of all evil. Just as allowing something to happen is not the same thing as causing something to happen.

Also, if this Supreme Being is evil, where does good come from? It wouldn’t exist. Our standards for goodness come from the fact that this Supreme Being is good. Evil, on the other hand is the absence of good. Good is not the absence of evil. Without a standard of goodness, each person does what they perceive as best. This argument seems illogical. There must be a standard of goodness, otherwise what is good, what is the right thing to do? Who defines that?

Posted by zs1027 | Report as abusive

It should also be considered that most followers only love a supreme being through love of reward and/or fear of punishment (or potentially indocrination). Would such love also be considered forced or under duress?

It is true that allowing something to happen is not exactly the same thing as causing something to happen.

But at the same time, christian dogma proposes that a deity is the supreme source of all things. Had that deity not given us free will, we would not have the potential for evil. And there would be no evil.

But evil exists. Hence as the deity created in us the potential for evil, that deity is the source of all evil. Just as that supposed deity is the source of all other things as well.

That would not mean the deity is inherently evil, any more then the universe where evil exists could be considered evil. But it certainly raises the question of whether a source of evil could be considered benevolent.

Regarding the standard of what is good or evil, has always been a distinction which differs by the perception of each individual person.

It is just that through organised religion, society or sect, certain common values are imposed on and shared by groups of people.

Imagine a world where christianity suddenly disappeared.
Common values of good and evil would still exist. They would simply be different, and/or imposed from society itself or the influence of other religious groups.

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive

Anon86, It’s easy to blame the God you don’t believe in for what this man decided to do, but what does that have to do with helping to liberate people who are being oppressed and held against their will (and others murdered because they won’t bow to this evil man)?

Also, if ‘you’ and others who think like you really believe doing away with Christianity would ‘benefit’ mankind in the long run, you’re about to be tested on that ‘theory’ in ways you could possibly never imagine in your wildest dreams, but don’t say ‘you’ (and they) weren’t warned.

It’s amazing how ‘we’ want to blame God for ‘our own’ mistakes and failures, but lay it ‘ALL’ at His feet, when He gives us the ways to stop these things from coming about. Also, He never said we wouldn’t have good and bad days, nor that we wouldn’t be persecuted for following Him “while we lived on this earth”, but that the end “will” most certainly justify the means when we follow Him to the end (then again, of course you and others don’t believe this).

Getting back to the original subject, my prayers go out to Mr. Park, as although he did what he thought was right, perhaps there might have been a better way to carry this out (but only God knows this for sure). He and those who are inprisoned are in my prayers that God will deliver them soon.

Posted by preta | Report as abusive

Here we go again, the discussion becomes , for most, entirely divorced from the subject confronting us.

We are now aware of a man that is so appauled at the actions of a particular regime, that unlike most of us arm chair commentators, he has decided to do something about it.

I am humbled and ashamed of my inactivity, not only toward NK but in so many countries arouind the world where we regularly see injustice, starvation, lives being lost through the corruption of governments,where we send a cheque for a fiver then settle back into our comfortable lives, and devalue the extraordinary actions of people like Mr Park.

Has Mr parks actions made any difference, certainly to one persons determination to become a “doer” not just a talker.

Thank you Mr Parks

Posted by genesis | Report as abusive

[...] Interview with North Korea border crosser – Robert Park [...]

[...] down because of Jesus Christ and because God loves these people–he does not want them to die. (See: http://blogs.reuters.com/global/2009/12/ 30/interview-with-north-korea-border-cro sser-robert-park/ [...]

This is an excerpt of an encouraging article on reuters today regarding the DPRK’s desire to have a formal peace treaty in place the the Korean War ceasefire, and an attempt to build trust with the US. Of particular importance is what President Obama’s point man for human rights in NK says about what it would take to have a relationship with the US. Hopefully this momentum will continue in calling the leaders of the DPRK into account!

HUMAN RIGHTS IN FOCUS

Human rights have been a flash point in already tense ties between rivals North Korea and the United States, but the issue has often been overshadowed by Washington’s attempts to prod Pyongyang back to the nuclear talks.

“It is one of the worst places in terms of the lack of human rights. The situation is appalling,” U.S. special envoy Robert King told reporters in Seoul on his first trip overseas since taking up the post about six weeks ago.

“A relationship with the United States and North Korea will have to involve human rights,” King said.

The United States says North Korea maintains a network of political prisons where anyone thought to be associated with anything critical of Kim’s rule can be jailed along with their families, who are deemed guilty by association.

Posted by zs1027 | Report as abusive

@Anon86 – I’ve enjoyed the dialogue back and forth. Would you be up for continuing this discussion over email? If so, shoot me a note to zslagel@hotmail.com

Posted by zs1027 | Report as abusive

Thanks for the offer, but I politely decline.

I prefer debates to remain on public forum, where others can also contribute.

Most of my points have been made anyway. It is unlikely that I could contribute anything of further interest.

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive

Dec. 25, 2009 a young man tries to blow up a plane in a murder/suicide attempt for his beliefs; same day, another young man enters NK for his beliefs. Each is considered a criminal/terrorist or a hero or a fool altogether. The issue isn’t so much about each of these men as it is what am I going to do about these events….

Posted by nojokingreally | Report as abusive

[...] Interview with North Korea border crosser Robert Park | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters (tags: article northkorea korea humanrights editorial) [...]

[...] Park’s final interview with Reuters is here. [...]

First off, I respectfully disagree with what you have to say, but I agree with your right to say it. I do not have all the answers. Like you, I am a humble human, but I will explain these issues to you to the best of my ability.

Let’s take it one step at a time:
1. “It should also be considered that most followers only love a supreme being through love of reward and/or fear of punishment (or potentially indoctrination). Would such love also be considered forced or under duress?”

Addressing the generalization in the first sentence: As far as I know, you are not a mind-reader, and neither can you look into the intentions of the heart. This would make your generalization without grounds.

Actually…as opposed to what the MSM would have you believe, followers choose “the way” as the logical response to the only God who abandoned paradise to offer himself as the payment for our mistakes. We love him because he first loved us. Fear is not the reason, because there is no fear in love.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors {and} expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love's complete perfection].

4:19 We love {Him,} because He first loved us.

2. Moving on to your second point:
The reason we have free choice is because, just like parents, a mindless robot would not be pleasing to interact with and love. Case in point: children. If you were a father/mother, would it make you more proud if your children were born perfect, void of struggles with right and wrong, or if they had to struggle to find what these are, and grew and matured in the process?

Posted by NoFearNLove | Report as abusive

[...] Interview with North Korea border crosser Robert Park | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters (tags: article northkorea korea humanrights editorial) [...]

[...] Korean Supreme Leader, Kim Jung-il, calling for human rights in the country. Here is a blip from a Reuters interview that Robert Park gave to Reuters the week before his crossing: My demand is that I do not want to [...]

[...] in his interview with Reuter’s, said this: I am going in for the sake of the lives of the North Korean people. And if he (Kim [...]

Since I am not a citizen of Korea, and do not have a right to vote there, I do not have an opinion that would make any difference.
Robert Park felt he needed to do something about it and so he did. The question is, did he do it from faith in God’s word, or did he use Christianity to hide behind to give his actions some sort of credibility?
I can applaud his convictions, but as I’ve always taught my sons, there is a fine line between no fear and foolishness.
It is written; Do not tempt the Lord thy God. I would not run all the red lights in town as a Christian, neither would I sneak into a military zone just to make a point. Jesus commanded us to go out and baptize with the Holy Spirit and keep the faith even unto to death, not lay our lives on the line to make a political statement.
I can understand why Christianity has become so misunderstood.

Posted by Neau12 | Report as abusive

[...] Read an interview with Park done the week before he walked across (Reuters). See also Koreans Divided Over U.S. [...]

Robert Park wasn’t helping anyone but himself. There are already scores of Christians who go into the North covertly to retrieve people or bring in supplies. Personally I think they’re the only ones with enough guts (or reckless enough) to endanger themselves on a regular basis and, because of their strong personal convictions, are the only ones who should be doing it.

They don’t get nabbed and they don’t bring the spotlight. The authorities would have fiercely interrogated and punished anyone suspected of coming into contact with him or aiding him.

Now he can go write a book and be a ‘specialist’. A risky, but great career move. We already are aware of the dire situation in North Korea. The Authorities have a strangle hold on their own people and are holding them hostage. It’s not an easy situation, but Parks efforts will only risk more lives. He is a far cry from bringing down the regime peacefully without collateral damage.

Posted by Khadirbek | Report as abusive

Honestly, I do not understand why certain people are outraged by what Mr Park has done. I mean come on, we live doing things we want to do and I’m sure none of us would want to be ridiculed by it. He has done things which he wanted and desired to do not just for his OWN benefits but others as well, in his own way. Of course he cannot make great changes since he isn’t the PRESIDENT nor a politician but at least he has done something within his own power to do something that’s worth living for him. Then tell me, what’s so wrong about that?

Posted by eichbang | Report as abusive

[...] Conversely, it could dilute a sense of reality to the point of the Pentecostal fundamentalism of “missionary” Robert Park.  But there are factors that can encourage the development of the former.  For starters, we can [...]

[...] Conversely, it could dilute a sense of reality to the point of the Pentecostal fundamentalism of “missionary” Robert Park.  But there are factors that can encourage the development of the former.  For starters, we can [...]

[...] days earlier, Park told Reuters in an interview he requested be run after he’d entered the North, “My demand is that I do not [...]