Day 4: The Holy Mother

Tucked away in between the grey square block buildings of Pyongyang stands a simple little building with a cross on top. The building is a church and with all of the discussions of Christian persecution in North Korea, it can be very shocking sight to see.

The Chilgol Church is one of the only two protestant churches allowed in North Korea and is the place where Kim Il Sung attended with his mother when he was a young boy. Today, there are about 150 people that attend Chilgol Church and their prayers are sung in praise of Kim Il Sung’s mother: Kang Pan-sok.

Kang Pan-sok was a deaconess of the church before fleeing to China to escape the Japanese occupation. In the holy trinity of North Korea, there is the father (Kim Il Sung), the son (Kim Jong Il) and the spirit of the people (represented by a flame between the hammer and the sickle), but what would be a complete copy of biblical theology without the edification of a mother Mary-like figure?

Kim Il Sung, not to be outdone by God, set up his own mother Mary. In the 1960’s a campaign was launched called “Learn from Madam Kang Pan-sok” where every girl throughout the entire nation was required to read a book about her life. Mothers would come together in the early morning hours, and would read and study the book together. Both the mothers and the daughters that were exposed to this book internalized the vision of the sacrificial mother that was willing to give up her children for the cause of the revolution. They would spend time everyday discussing the ways in which a good mother would readily deliver their children into the jaws of death, if it advanced the cause.

This book indoctrinated women to believe in the cult personality of Kang Pan-sok and to give their sons and daughters in the sacrifice of the Communist revolution as she did. She is referred to as the “mother of Korea” and can almost be equated with the Mother Mary concept in Catholicism. When people die, many believe that they will join the eternal leader Kim Il Sung and there in his presence will be his mother.

Every year on April 21st, a wreath-laying ceremony is held near the church of Chilgol in memory of her. The entire ceremony is very religious in nature.

Prayer Points:

  • Kang Pan-sok’s Christian background is ignored in North Korea
  • There is a strong religious personality cult built around the ‘Mother of Korea’
  • Kang Pan-sok is dead is not able to answer the prayers or respond to the praise that the people in Chilgol Church offer to her. Christians need to pray that the people of Chigol Church return back to the One True God that can save them from the misery that they currently live in

Today’s Scripture Reading:

Proverbs 14:1
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.