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Which Way the Trolley: America’s Hot Wars During the Cold War, Part 1


Korea 60 years after the trolley lever was pulled

The South Korean economy began to flourish after the 1960s and became one of the Asian “Economic Tigers,” along with Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. South Korea is the 13th largest economy in the world. It has a robust export sector of well-made products and major companies spread all over the world (I drive a Hyundai). In fact, South Korea’s astounding economic growth and general prosperity was a major factor in convincing the Chinese Communist leadership that their classic Communist, state run economy, would never bring prosperity, and they turned to free enterprise as their model.

Spiritually, South Korea has become increasingly Christian, with the percentage of Christians recently surpassing Buddhism (the traditional religion in Korea) and growing to over 30% of the population. This is the fruit of free Christian churches functioning and evangelizing in a free society. Korean Christianity is known for its enthusiasm of prayer and fasting. Many Korean Christian go to special “prayer mountains” where they use their vacation time in Spartan cells in prayer and fasting. Korean Churches often have vigorous missionary outreaches that place missionaries in many foreign counties and have produced several martyrs in Muslim counties.[28]

By all measures, South Korea is a free, democratic, prosperous, and spiritually fruitful country.

But North Korea has developed in an altogether different and negative path. Its founding dictator, Kim Il-Sung, established an absolute tyranny now in its third generation – a Communist monarchy. It was initially a copy of Stalin’s Communist command economy, and it retains many of its essential elements.

However, Kim’s “cult of the personality,” modeled by Stalin, reached new heights (or rather, lows) in Korea. For instance, and every school has a special auditorium where only Kims’ propaganda may be presented.[29] There is no free press or any human rights in North Korea – only the will of the ruler. North Korean society is heavily stratified according to perceived degrees of loyalty to the Kim family. Those deemed most loyal live in the capital, and live in relatively luxury. Those less loyal or suspect to any degree live in poverty.[30]

The deceased founder of North Korea’s “People’s Republic” is now worshiped as a god. Many in Korea talk to their dead leader as a Christian talks to Jesus. In fact, many sociologists now rank the Kim family’s syncretic mix of Marxism, Confucianism, Christianity, and its cult of the personality as a religion, not a political system.[31]

Rather than prosperity, North Korea has suffered economic hardship and recurring famine. Most of it brought on by the necessary relationship between a non-market, state controlled economy and Communist ideology. The famine of 1994 – 1998 was particularly harsh with perhaps three million persons dying of hunger or hunger related illnesses.[32] Hundreds of thousands have died in prison camps and forced labor gulags for the most minor of political infractions, such as not mourning sufficiently for the passing of founder Kim’s death.

Like most Communist countries, North Korea has had great difficulty in producing quality goods, and thus has a poor export sector.[33] The exception is North Korea’s military training sector, which it hires out to various Third World countries to gather needed foreign exchange.

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Category: Church History, Fall 2016

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include Quenching the Spirit: Discover the Real Spirit Behind the Charismatic Controversy (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing Prayer to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones (Emeth Press, 2018). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He continues in his healing, teaching and writing ministry and is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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