Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Chief International Correspondent
WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Worthy News) -- An American mission group said Thursday, February 12, it has launched an 'Underground University' to help exiled North Koreans to return and evangelize in North Korea or to spread Christianity among North Koreans in other countries, including in China.
The Underground University is a twelve month intense program located in South Korea's capital Seoul, said Colorado Springs-based Seoul USA.
It is "designed to equip North Korean exiles with the tools they need to return and spread the Christian message to North Koreans inside North Korea, China, and countries where North Korean diplomats and students are living abroad," the group explained.
The group said the university is necessary as North Korea has been ranked for the sixth year in a row as number one on the Christian persecution 'World Watch List' of Open Doors, a major Christian advocacy and aid group.
ONE MILLION PRISONERS
Over one million North Koreans, including many Christians, are locked up in concentration camps in conditions almost reminiscent of German war time leader Adolf Hitler's death camps, Netherlands-based Open Doors told Worthy News and its partner agency BosNewsLife earlier.
There have been news reports that guards have been stomping on the necks of babies born to prisoners and that "scientists" perform gruesome experiments on living victims, with many of them dying.
Many of the victims are believed to be Christians as North Korea’s Stalinist system of carrying out Communism is based on "total devotion" of the individual to an ideology promoted by the late leader Kim Il Sung and his successor and son, Kim Jong Il.
Christianity is seen as a threat, several Christian and other observers have said. North Korean authorities have denied wrongdoing and say the North Korean people love to serve the country's "dear leader".
Yet despite the dangers, a "return to North Korea movement" is surfacing among North Korean defectors in neighboring South Korea, Seoul USA said.
"Many Americans have heard about the tens of thousands who are active in the underground North Korean Church, but an equally amazing trend is the growing number of North Korean exiles who are eager to return to China and North Korea to reach their countrymen," said Seoul USA Chief Executive Officer H. S. Foley.
"The fact that North Koreans are eager to risk their lives by returning to North Korea to spread the Christian message makes us want to equip them with the comprehensive training they'll need to survive," she added in a statement.
The group said it plans to organize a banquet on April 2, 2009 at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, to "give Colorado residents the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the modern-day holocaust in North Korea," including by raising funds. The event also features a Kim Sung Min, a North Korean defector and dean of Underground University who also twice visited the White House “to share the plight of North Koreans," Seoul USA said.
"Mr. Kim will share his harrowing story of escape from North Korea and the hope he sees through Underground University."
It was not immediately clear what security and screening measures have been at Underground University with Website .
There has been concerns among North Korean Christians about secret agents infiltrating churches and other Christian institutions.