International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 19, 2019, Korean evangelist Jinwook Kim was stabbed on the streets in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. He later died in the hospital from his injuries; he was 41 years old.
The Public Security Branch Directorate of Murder Bureau has arrested a 16-year-old suspect and an investigation is ongoing.
Kim had arrived in Diyarbakir with his family earlier this year and was pastoring a small community of Christians. The assailant stabbed Kim three times: twice in the heart, once in the back. Officials, however, claim that the incident occurred in an effort to steal Kim’s phone.
Local believers urge the authorities to investigate the incident as an assassination, rather than an attempt at extortion. Kim was married and had one child, although his second is expected to be born in the coming days. A funeral service will be held tomorrow. He had lived in Turkey for five years.
Kim is the first Christian murdered in Turkey since the 2007 Zirve Publishing House murders, which left three Christians martyred in Malatya. Christians living in Turkey have reported an increase in harassment, threats, and other non-violent incidents over the past three years.
Turkey is considered a Tier 2 Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“This is the first martyrdom since Malatya. The Turkish government has started a massive deportation of Protestant leaders who served in Turkey for many years,” said one church leader. “But deportation isn’t enough for evangelists. This kind of attack would scare [them]. I think this is the last level of a plan, being like China.”
“This wasn’t just a robbery; they came to kill him,” added a Turkish evangelist, who received a death threat the day after this incident. “We always get threats. A brother prophesied a few days ago that they (the government) are going to kick out these foreigners, and probably kill a few Turkish brothers. They are going to cause chaos. They know that I am trying to spread the Gospel, so they may target me too. This may be a sign.”
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said: “The grief among Turkey’s Christian community is strongly felt, along with great shock and fear. Martyrdom is not normal in Turkey, and this incident sadly shows just how much the country has changed.
Just this year, we have seen a significant increase in incidents proving how the environment has grown more hostile toward Christianity. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and pray for God’s peace for them through this difficult time. We also urge the authorities to set public examples of religious tolerance, and to investigate this incident with honesty and due process of law.”