Name: Zhang Wen Shi (Chinese name) or Jang Moon Seok (Korean name)
Country/Area of Origin: Zhang is ethnically Korean but is a Chinese citizen. Zhang is currently imprisoned in North Korea
Reason for Arrest:
Prior to his detention, Deacon Zhang resided in Changbai China, a town located on the border between China and North Korea. Alongside another notable Korea-Chinese pastor, Han Chung-Ryeol, Deacon Zhang would host North Korean businessmen when they crossed into China to purchase items, conduct business, or seek medical care. Deacon Zhang, in addition to caring for these North Korean citizens by providing clothing and necessities, would share the gospel to those who were willing to receive it.
Deacon Zhang became a well-known figure and some North Korean citizens would regularly return to visit him and participate in more Bible lessons; many became Christians themselves.
In November 2014, North Korean authorities kidnapped Deacon Zhang, transported him into North Korea, and sentenced him to fifteen years in prison despite that he is a Chinese citizen. Deacon Zhang’s partner, Pastor Han, was fatally stabbed by North Korean authorities in Changbai a year and a half later.
- On 2 June 2020, it was announced that USCIRF Commissioner James Carr adopted Deacon Zhang through USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project, and made the following remarks:
- “Deacon Zhang committed no crime and took no action against North Korea and yet he now languishes in a prison camp because the regime is terrified of religion. Sadly, Deacon Zhang is far from unique. He is one of the thousands of Christians and other religious believers held in political prison camps. In the U.S. government’s continued negotiations with the North Korean government, we must not forget about victims like Deacon Zhang.” – USCIRF Commissioner James Carr
- Voice of Martyrs (VOM) Korea representative, Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, released the following statement:
- “Deacon Jang, who is also known by his Chinese name Zhang Wen Shi, is an ethnically Korean Chinese citizen who was kidnapped in November 2014 from China and put in a North Korean prison. We believe the reason for his kidnapping was to gather information about the North Korean ministry work we are doing with Pastor Han. [Zhang] is a simple man who never did anything political. He just helped North Korean people for many years. That should never be a crime, and Christians should join together to help Deacon Jang and his family.” – Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, VOM