Kim Jong-il, the former dictator of North Korea who passed away on Saturday, set himself up to be worshiped as a god among his people – but death still overtook him.
The iron-fist dictator is responsible for widespread humanitarian crisis, including persecution of Christians, who are arrested, sent to prison camps, tortured and sometimes publicly executed. But some Christian leaders say if Kim, in his waning moments of life, put his faith in Jesus Christ, he could have been forgiven for all the evil he had done. So the question remains: Is Kim Jong-Il in hell?
“Kim Jong-il , just like his father Kim Il-sung, was an evil dictator that brought fear and pain to so many people in the North,” Won Jae Yu, pastor of New Mercy Community Church in Hackensack, N.J., told The Christian Post in an email on Monday.
“God ultimately knows about the destiny of our souls. We cannot judge or tell where people are headed. Kim's destiny will be tied to his relationship with Jesus Christ. We just pray that Kim's passing is a beginning of something positive and finally the people of North Korea will share in the Gospel.”
Yu says Korean-American Christians have been praying for North Korea with the hope that God will act and transform “one of the darkest places in the world” into something better.
Jonathan Racho, International Christian Concern's (ICC) regional manager for South Asia, said there are an estimated 200,000 Christians in North Korea, 50,000 of which are imprisoned in labor camps.
Ironically, Kim Jong-il's great grandfather was a Protestant minister, Racho noted. Prior to adopting communist philosophies and earning his reputation as dictator, Kim’s father, Kim Il-sung, was raised in a Christian family and even played organ for the church, according to the website for the film “Kimjongilia.”
"If he had committed his life to Jesus Christ before he died, which I'm not sure about, then I would say that he will be in heaven...anyone, before they die, has the opportunity to repent and to [commit] their life to Jesus Christ,” said Racho.
An article from The Gospel Coalition indicates that those who appear to be tyrants and those who appear to be good people all face hell as their destiny apart from Christ.
Kim Jong-il, a “villain” who “showed disdain for Christ” through his treatment of Christians, and the late Vaclav Havel, who was once president of the former Czechoslovakia and a human rights leader who will be remembered as a “noble hero” by many, will now both “stand before the supreme magistrate who will measure them against the only truly righteous standard: Jesus Christ.”
“There is no sinner so depraved – not even Kim Jong-il – that our merciful God cannot save him. And there is no human so righteous – not even Vaclav Havel – whose good works can gain him entrance into heaven,” the article says.
“By his death and resurrection, Jesus atoned for our sin and secured our justification by grace – not by our works. The deaths of these men should serve as a reminder of our need to spread the message that heaven is not the final destination for good men and women, but rather the home for those who have been bought by the blood of Christ.”
Kim Jong-il's death was announced Monday by North Korea's state-run television. He became the leader of the nation in 1994 when his father passed away, and is succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un.