Kim, who had been resident in Turkey for five years, was living in Diyarbakir having moved there earlier this year with his family to pastor a small Christian community. He was married with one child, and another due within days.
Turkish authorities have arrested a 16-year-old in conjunction with the murder, which they say was motivated by robbery. However, the local Christian population is adamant that Kim was targeted due to his faith, and are calling his death a martyrdom.
A Turkish evangelist said that he had received threats the day after the murder. “This wasn’t just a robbery; they came to kill him,” he said. “We always get threats. They know that I am trying to spread the Gospel, so they may target me too. This may be a sign.”
Kim is the first Christian to have been killed in Turkey since the 2007 Zirve Publishing House murders, dubbed the ‘missionary massacres’ by the local press, in which three employees of the Bible publishing house were tortured and killed.
However, Christians in the country say that animosity toward the Christian community has ramped up over the last three years, with harassment and threats on the rise.
“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,” one church leader said, adding: “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.”
Claire Evans, Middle East Regional Manager for International Christian Concern, said: “The grief among Turkey’s Christian community is strongly felt, along with great shock and fear. Just this year, we have seen a significant increase in incidents proving how the environment has grown more hostile toward Christianity.”
She called on the Turkish authorities to “set public examples of religious tolerance, and to investigate this incident with honesty and due process of law.”
In October, adverts appeared at bus stations in the city of Konya quoting a passage from the Koran which urged locals not to take “Jews and Christians as allies.” Politically, the city is dominated by the Justice and Development Party [AKP], which is under the leadership of the current Turkish President, Recep Erdogan.
The ad prompted Middle East commentator Daniel Pipes to tweet that Turkey is becoming another Islamic state, in the mold of Iran, and wonder “when will the world awaken to the danger?”