A North Korean defector said he was “shocked” by the kindness he encountered when he first visited the United States because his home country portrays U.S. citizens as “people who torture and kill.”
“[The U.S.] is not just ‘bad,’” Kim Geum-Hyuk, who now lives in Seoul, South Korea, said in an interview with the YouTube channel DIMPLE. “America is a complete enemy for [North Korea]. They taught us to fight [Americans] til the end. I also was one of the victims of brainwash education so I had hostility toward America.”
According to Kim, who currently works as a peace ambassador for One Young World and is studying political science and diplomacy at Korea University, North Korea portrays Americans as "street dogs,” “wolves,” and "people who torture and kill."
But after arriving in California, Kim said he realized his home country’s depiction of U.S. citizens was "totally wrong.”
“What I was taught in North Korea was an image of the coldness and wickedness of Americans,” he said. “They were an image of scary people to me, but it was totally wrong ... it’s totally different from the image that North Koreans think.”
“I believed they were full of hostility, but they were just so nice,” Kim added, expressing his surprise that "everyone actually said 'hi' on the street."
Because he had never seen photos of the U.S., he was shocked at the beauty and size of the country. Kim said visiting the Grand Canyon was like going to Mars and that the size of Texas was bigger than he ever imagined.
"[Americans are] so nice, funny, and open to anything,” he said. “There are Mexicans, Chinese, Koreans ... So many people made up one community ... I was just so surprised by the diversity."
Led by Kim Jong Un, the North Korean regime’s penchant for teaching its citizens anti-American propaganda is well documented. Painting the U.S. as an “aggressive threat” determined to destroy North Koreans, the country’s regime uses the fear of an outside threat to bolster national pride and government power.
North Korean defector Jeon Geum-ju shared with The Washington Post how, from the earliest age, North Korean children are taught “cunning American wolves” want to kill them, while the country’s leaders are portrayed as “godlike.”
A recently-discovered propaganda video revealed how the North Korean government seeks to silence Christianity by painting believers as “religious fanatics” and “spies” bent on undermining the stability of the hermit kingdom.
The video, obtained by The Voice of the Martyrs, was allegedly used to teach state security agents how to identify and silence those who promote religion inside the country.
North Korea has for the last 18 years ranked as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. In the hermit country, those who profess Christ or are caught communicating with missionaries face severe repercussions like torture and imprisonment.
Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American pastor who was held hostage in North Korea from 2012 to 2014, shared how the North Korean government is more afraid of Christians than nuclear weapons. According to Bae, most North Koreans have never heard the name of Jesus.
"They said, 'we are not afraid of nuclear weapons ... we are afraid of someone like you bringing religion into our country and use it against us and then everybody will turn to God and this will become God's country and we will fall," Bae said.