North Korea is probably the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian. The closed country is under the despotic rule of President Kim Jong-un and strict communist control. His grandfather, Supreme leader Kim Il-sung, established the state ideology of Juche, or human “self-reliance”.
Back in 1907, Pyongyang was known as the “Jerusalem of the East” after a Protestant revival, and, until 1945, the north was the powerhouse of Korean Christianity.
Some Christians in North Korea have been executed for the “crime” of owning a Bible, and tens of thousands have been incarcerated in political labour camps where they are abused, tortured and worked to death. Christians are singled out for the worst treatment in the camps. Three generations have been punished for the “crime” of one Christian family member.
Many parents dare not even let their own children know they follow Christ, as pupils are encouraged at school to report their parents if they see them praying or reading the Scriptures. Neighbours can be punished for failing to report suspected Christians living nearby.
The state tightly controls the media and prevents North Koreans from getting any information outside of what the government provides. Access to Christian literature is extremely limited.
Thousands attempt to escape the country. The Chinese government is thought to conspire with North Korean authorities to forcibly repatriate those who cross the border. According to an official who defected, captured escapees are tortured until they reveal where they have been and who they have contacted. Christians are especially targeted.
In January 2020, the country’s only active border, that with China, was closed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in a serious shortage of food, in this hunger-prone country, and also medicine. On 16 June North Korea blew up the liaison office in the border town of Kaesong, which had been opened in 2018 as a venue for meetings between officials from the two Koreas, which separated in 1945.
Pray for daily grace for Christians, who are in danger every moment. May all facing death, torture and abuse in labour camps know God’s sustaining power.
The above content can also be found in the Praying for the Persecuted Church (2021-2022) booklet