To make an understatement, a lot has been happening in Korea this year. The Olympic events in South Korea seemed to open a door that has ultimately led to a meeting between Dictator Kim and our president. While we must watch and wait to see if Kim really does de-nuclearize his nation as promised, it does look like he means it. And, yes, President Trump is correct in refusing to be satisfied with anything short of total, verifiable, de-nuclearization.
While I have never been stationed in or visited Korea, I know a large number of soldiers who have. The Demilitarized Zone or DMZ is a game preserve of sorts; lots of animals live there because no people or buildings are there. The DMZ is also the home to about 1 million land mines. But I think that dealing with the DMZ will be the least of the issues as the talks proceed.
South Korea has the 11th largest economy in the world—and North Korea lives is almost total poverty—the ruling class doesn’t, of course. I have been told by those who have been there that you can’t hear birds chirping in North Korea because the people kill and eat birds as fast as they can find them. One can see why the North Korean people would appreciate a change—any change.
But, why do I think the denuclearization plan will work this time when Kim’s predecessors have promised and lied about it so many times in the past? Well, let me tell you a story—a true story, but one that has received little publicity.
In 1933 a young American girl named Ruth Bell was sent by her Presbyterian missionary parents to a boarding school in Pyongyang, that is now the capital of North Korea—and that was run by an elder in the Presbyterian Church whose grandson was Kim Il-sung—who became the first Supreme Leader of North Korea from its establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994.
Ruth Bell became the wife the most influential Christian evangelist in the world, Billy Graham—both of whom are credited with having convinced Supreme Leader Kim Il-sung to enshrine in the Constitution of North Korea the “freedom of religion” principle—and after the ending of the Cold War, saw Reverend Graham and Ruth, in 1992, becoming the first international religious figures ever allowed to visit North Korea.
To better understand the powerful influence the Grahams had on North Korea, you have to go back to 1974 when Billy Graham founded what is known as the Lausanne Movement in Lausanne, Switzerland—and whose Covenant introduces itself as being: “We, members of the Church of Jesus Christ, from more than 150 nations, participants in the International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne, praise God for his great salvation and rejoice in the fellowship he has given us with himself and with each other.” Nothing blunt about that—they are 100% evangelical Christian—and even Kim Il Sung knew it.
One of the literally thousands of Christian evangelical organizations around the world funded by the Lausanne Movement is the Liebefeld-Steinholzi School located near Bern, Switzerland—and shortly after Reverend Graham met with Supreme Leader Kim Il-sung, Kim sent his young grandson Kim Jong-un there— where he spent nearly four years without even his teachers knowing his real identity.
In December, 2011, Kim Jong-un was thrust from obscurity onto the world stage after the death of his father Kim Jong-il—as he became the nominal leader of North Korea—but he didn’t get full and total control of his nation until June, 2016, when he became the head of state. Kim Jong-un’s rise to power in North Korea, however, took a bloody course as he sought to rid North Korea of what he called subversive Chinese “elements” attempting to overthrow him and place into power his older brother Kim Jong-nam—who North Korea’s “old guard” military and political leaders regarded as the “true heir”—and that saw Kim appeal directly to Russian President Putin, who quickly responded by surrounding him with some of Russia’s most experienced, and feared, special operations protectors.
While being protected by Russian special forces operatives, Kim Jong-un was able to “eliminate” over 300 of the “old guard” Chinese “elements” arrayed against him—and, of course, his rival for power, his older brother Kim Jong-nam, who while under Chinese protection, was assassinated. I’m not sure why the older brother wasn’t named the new leader by his father—obviously lots of politics here.
Though revered as a god-like figure in North Korea, Kim Jong-un, just weeks ago, apparently revealed his secret Christian feelings by releasing to his people an astounding video showing him with tears streaming down his cheeks for the future he wants for his nation—and as one source describes: Tears trickle down the cheeks of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as he gazes out toward the horizon while standing on a coastline. The scene is from a documentary for party officials wherein a narrator explains that Kim is distraught over his inability to radically overhaul the economy to make the reclusive country a vibrant power.
Kim’s show of weakness shocked North Koreans, who are told to worship the Kim family as gods, but this documentary sends a message to party officials that they have no option but to follow Kim’s lead as North Korea prepares to stop nuclear testing and focus on economic development.
Responding in kind to Kim’s stunning video revealing his apparent Christian love for his people and nation, President Trump, at their summit, presented to Kim another video showing how bright and prosperous North Korea can actually become—and that globally renowned American author and commentator Scott Adams said “might be the best thing anybody ever did in a negotiation”.
Moving swiftly to aid Kim and the people of North Korea, President Trump enlisted the help of Reverend Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, who has made four humanitarian trips to North Korea while leading his ministry called Samaritan’s Purse in a variety of campaigns to help the North Korean people and who recently stated: ”The North Koreans have been wanting to talk to the Americans for a long time and this is the first administration that they’ve been able to talk to directly like this. The North Koreans just want to be shown respect and other administrations brushed them off like they were nothing.”
Working with Reverend Franklin Graham’s global charity Samaritan’s Purse to aid North Korea is David Beasley, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Program—whom President Trump had appointed to this office and ordered to travel to North Korea—with Beasley reporting back to Trump that he was not only given unrestricted access to go anywhere in North Korea he wanted, he, also, encountered a remarkable sense of optimism he is sure would respond to by the world community in providing more funding to help feed the country’s children—and his further declaring: “I do believe everyone wants to open a new chapter in world history, turn the page and look to a brighter future. My thoughts are: Let’s not throw cold water on that. Let’s try to keep the momentum going”.
I know it’s wildly politically incorrect to even suggest that God may play a role in anything important, but that just might be happening.
Kim does know that his nation’s people are starving while his southern neighbors are prospering. He does have a perspective that none of his predecessors had—that he got from his four years in a Christian school in Switzerland. Of course, he’s also the product of his home culture, and who can not like having absolute power?
Bottom line, it appears that President Trump’s team did a great job of studying and analyzing who Kim is and what he values. Then, Trump, who even his enemies must admit is a master negotiator, made some offers that Kim certainly could have declined but reasonably decided to accept. Yes, we have to wait to see that everything Kim promised will actually happen—but I do expect that we will see North Korea denuclearize and modernize and become a member of the family of nations.