The citizens of North Korea live in oppression, poverty, and slavery under a dictator they fear, yet revere. They are allowed no communication with the outside world: no TV, no cell phones, no internet, and the only observed literature are books written by Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s preceding leader and father of the current leader Kim Jong Il. Reporter Lisa Ling enters the country with an eye doctor on a mission: to give sight to the blind by performing surgery to over one-thousand cataract sufferers in only ten days. Secretly she is attempting far more than to simply accomplish this medical feat; Ling hopes to get an inside look at the life, people, and leadership of North Korea.During their ten days, the team is closely monitored and kept under strict supervision. Nevertheless, they are granted permission to visit the home of an elderly blind woman awaiting surgery. When questioned about her loss of vision and desire to see again, her heartfelt response is of her hope to again lay eyes on her cherished leader Kim Jong Il. This reaction is seen repeatedly as the documentary reveals suffering, wounded, stricken citizens of an impoverished country offering great thankfulness and devotion to an iron fisted dictator. It is mindboggling to witness patient after patient receive their sight, then drop to their knees, hands raised, in worship and thanksgiving to a hanging portrait of Kim Jong Il, as if he himself were their god and healer.
How can this be? Why are thousands of uncared for individuals who suffer starvation and the risk of being captured and thrown into concentration camps for the simplest offense, honoring and worshiping the very man responsible for this neglect and terror? How can these men and women raise their children to love, respect, and advocate for a man of such evil intent? Is it because they know nothing else? Could it be that these people have no idea what health, freedom, joy, or life is?
Scripture says God has placed eternity in their hearts (Eccl 3:11) and that all creation (including those of North Korea) groans for deliverance from the bondage of this life (Rom 8:21-22). Are the people of North Korea worshipping the only ‘deity’ they’ve ever known simply because their Creator fashioned them to do so? God has built within us a desire to worship and these people are doing just that. Sadly they are worshiping a false god while yearning for the true God; a God unknown to them. I pray the eyes of North Korea will be opened to turn to their unknown God, just as Paul proclaimed to the people of Athens: “I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:23-24).
I likewise pray that our country would turn from the gods of this life: riches, pleasure, pride, envy, sexual sin, murder, and turn to the true God, the Creator, the One who fashioned and formed us to love, worship, honor, and spend eternity with Him. I pray we turn from the gods that tear us down to the God that builds us up.