Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Escapee describes horrors of N. Korean political prisoners
UK's House of Lords committee hears of brutal violations
- Mike MacLachlan, London
- United Kingdom
- October 9, 2013
Camps for North Korea’s political prisoners are “worse than Nazi concentration camps,” an escapee told a parliamentary hearing in London on Tuesday.
Kim Young-soon spent nine years in the camps simply because “I was a friend of Kim Jong-il’s former wife,” she told the all-party group for North Korea at the House of Lords.
Kim broke down as she talked about Pyongyang’s notorious policy of rounding up the entire family of political prisoners.
“Almost no one survives the camps,” she said. “I lost my parents and my son. My heart still breaks when I think of them.”
Kim, who was a dancer in the People’s Army Ensemble with the rank of lieutenant, spoke of seeing “piles of bodies every day” and of camp inmates “picking corn kernels out of cattle dung” to avoid starvation.
She escaped in 2001 and reached South Korea two years later. In 2010, Reuters news agency reported that Kim was a childhood friend of Sung Hye-rim, a film star with whom Kim Jong-il had an affair and later married. Sung died in exile in Russia in 2002.
It was to keep the affair secret that Kim Young-soon was sent to the camps, Reuters reported.
Chairing yesterday’s meeting, the Catholic rights campaigner Lord Alton of Liverpool said 300,000 people remained in the camps and accused Pyongyang of “egregious violations of human rights.”
He praised the “sheer bravery” of people like Kim who escaped and made their way by arduous routes through China, and often Mongolia or Laos, to safety in the South.
Several speakers emphasised that pressure from British and other European governments and media could make a difference in North Korea since European nations are not regarded as “the enemy”, as are South Korea, Japan and the United States.
The hearing was part of North Korea Freedom Week in Europe, which is aimed at raising the consciousness of Europeans about North Korea.
The Freedom Week sees the launch at the House of Lords of North Korea Refugees Solidarity Worldwide on Thursday and will end with demonstrations in Berlin on Saturday.