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Personal Perspectives on North Korea from former Missionary

DMZ North and South Korea

Demilitarized zone guarded by North and South Korean soldiers Photo from Asia News Agency

I feel it’s important to give you some context about the latest threat from the North Korean dictator. Kim Jong-un. I was a teaching missionary in the eastern seaboard city of Kangnung in South Korea over 22 years ago. There was a threat of an invasion of North Korea into South Korea. I was the only teacher among us with a shortwave radio. They asked me to monitor the news. I listened for hours each day. After several days this was the only report received from the B.B.C. “Tensions increase between North and South Korea. Now to the cricket scores.” While we didn’t get the full story the contrast between the importance of playing cricket and news about North Korea provided some much-needed laughter and stress relief among us.

Prior to my arrival at The International English School, there had been a curfew for all in Kangnung to get off the streets. The Korean Army was patrolling them armed with guns and tanks. They were looking for any sign of North Koreans.

While a peace treaty was signed in 1953 to end the Korean War North Korea remains in a state of war with South Korea. The demilitarized zone (DMZ), is guarded on both sides.

At Kimpo Beach just outside of Kangnung, there were Korean Army soldiers with machine guns. They were looking for any submarines that could launch an invasion force.

North Korea’s latest missile went a longer distance than the ones before. Military analysts say that the North Koreans are learning to develop longer range missiles. The threat that they could develop one that could reach the U.S. mainland, Canada, Europe or any continent needs to be taken seriously. It’s more than a war of words now.

I ask you to pray for all involved in making decisions concerning North Korea. They have a tough job to do. Let’s support them with our thoughts and prayers. Perhaps, you could send a card to the U.S. military headquarters in South Korea thanking them for keeping you safe. If you know of a soldier or officer based in South Korea, please send them a letter or a card thanking them for their courage.

Having lived and worked in South Korea, I can understand some of the terror foreign workers are experiencing. They need your prayers too. The many countries condemning the actions of South Korea need guidance in imposing sanctions against North Korea.

Please also don’t lose sight of the fact that many North Koreans are living in terror. They would be afraid to speak out against their government for fear of being imprisoned or having their families subjected to torture and even death. I think the videos you see of people shouting out their support for the North Korean regime are staged. I suspect they are told what to say like it’s a scene in a play they need to perform.

Most of the North Korean population lives in comparative poverty to the elitists in government.

Please reflect upon this thought. “The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.” – James Buchanan. That is where solutions to the situation with North Korea will come- from the quality of the people supporting their leaders. We can perform an invaluable service by praying for our leaders, and those who assist them.

I offer this prayer:

Almighty God, we live in perilous times. Give us the quiet courage to live our lives to the fullest. That is how we can show we will not be deterred in loving others as You call us to love -not with clenched fists but two open hands.

Please grant godly wisdom to our leaders and those who help them carry out their duties. Whatever we can do to support those involved in exercising diplomacy with the North Koreans, please show us what that is. Then, give us the thoughts how we can best act to support them whether it is with our prayers, letters of support or using our talents to send out the message loud and clear that we care.

Please protect our military as they work hard to keep us safe. In whatever way, we can show our support for those who watch over us on land, in the air, and on the sea, give us willing hearts to do so. In a thank you card, a letter, a care package filled with tasty goodies from home we say we care.

Love is more powerful than any weapon; it conquers hate; it lives in our hearts; it cannot be stolen from us; it speaks a message that can never be silenced; it is the language we need to speak now more than ever.


Kevin and Karen Osborne are psychotherapists and pastoral counsellors.  Kevin is studying to become a chaplain and professor of Psychology specializing in Pastoral Theology. Karen enjoys doing cross-stitch while I like writing and singing songs. Karen makes me laugh when she sings the kitty bed-time song saying, “It’s that time. It’s the bestest kitty time of the day!” Kevin enjoys teasing the kitties and making them do kitty dances with music. Their kitty, Catherine, loves it when kitty daddeh sings All Things Bright and Beautiful. Kevin likes doing impressions. He tells children’s stories and helps others with their problems using his hand puppet, Dr. Teddy, who is a therapy bear. He is a partner with us in our counselling practice.We are available to assist with worship and preaching to give busy pastors and ministers a much-needed break. We offer in-office, and phone counselling to anyone in the world.