A 44-year-old American citizen, jailed last year in North Korea accused of seeking to topple the government, said in 2009 that he wished to "collapse" the "walls" separating North Korea from the rest of the world and that he had asked U.S. churches to send members to worship in the hermetic communist nation.
According to a recently unearthed video, Kenneth Bae, who was sentenced to 15 years hard labor by a North Korean court in April, gave a sermon in 2009 at a Korean-American church in St. Louis, Mo., during which he said he wanted to bring hundreds of Christians into North Korea to pray.
"We are going to send 300 people to pray in [the North Korean city of] Rason. ... I'm now touring churches in the U.S., asking them to send 10 people per church to worship for one week," Bae said, per a translation of the speech provided by NK News.
Bae also spoke of using prayer to "collapse" the walls of the notoriously reclusive nation.
"Just as God made people enter Jericho and collapse it without force, I hope the wall between [North Korea and the world] will collapse soon, through just our praying and worship in Rason," Bae preached, according to the NK News translation.
Bae also described an incident in North Korea where he got a crowd of 30 North Koreans to chant "God is Great" while he and his missionary team sang songs and played guitar.
Although North Korea claims to guarantee freedom of religion, the country has reportedly doled out harsh punishments to people accused of spreading religious beliefs.
According to The Washington Post, the North Korean government leveled three main charges against Bae after his arrest in early November: 1) smuggling a documentary into the reclusive country; 2) "infiltrating" 250 students into the city of Rason for subversive purposes, and 3) plotting a coup called "Operation Jericho," designed to bring the downfall of the government.
Bae was arrested while attempting to enter Rason with five other people. Pyongyang says Bae entered the country illegally, and according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, North Korean officials claim they found a computer disk that may have contained sensitive information.
According to the Associated Press, Bae's friends said the jailed American made frequent trips to North Korea both to lead tours and to feed orphans. While the other six Americans detained in North Korea since 2009 have been released before serving their full sentences, Pyongyang appears to be taking a tough stance with Bae: Earlier this month, North Korea's state-run news agency declared the regime had no plans to invite any American officials to Pyongyang to discuss Bae's release, saying he is "not a political bargaining chip" for negotiations with Washington.