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North Korea: Then and Now

Today, for the first time the US has placed sanctions on North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un. The US has placed sanctions on North Korea for their human rights abuses. Here is a look into the then and now of North Korea, which is number one on our World Watch List.

The god-like worship in this closed nation, along with the harsh living conditions are images that often come to mind when thinking of North Korea. While many ask God to change these circumstances and free the people of North Korea from this restrictive regime, we are reminded that persecution develops faith, and God is doing an amazing work in this country- in spite of the persecution! Take an in-depth look at what life is like for Christians in this closed off country: Those owning a Bible can be punished with torture, execution or imprisonment in a labor camp. Parents live in fear that their children will be too open about family life, so they must appear seemingly loyal to the totalitarian state while secretly being disciples of Jesus. It is not uncommon for family members to betray one another, sinking under constant pressures to report Christian activities to authorities. Meetings with other Christians are rare, prevented by relentless surveillance. For these Christians, every morning comes with the realization that their faith in Jesus may cost them their very lives, as well as those they hold dear. Christians in North Korea have been facing the world’s worst persecution for nearly 70 years. For the past twelve years, North Korea has ranked #1 on the Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution. Since leader Kim Il Sung came into power in 1945, he aimed to destroy and get rid of all religious, ideological and political thinking that might interfere with his philosophy known as Juche, or the complete self-reliance of North Korea. His grandson, current leader Kim Jong Un, sticks to his father’s and grandfather’s objective to exterminate all foreign influences from the country. Lack of loyalty to the Kim dynasty and Juche is regarded as the worst of crimes, and is punished with prison time in one of North Korea’s many labor camps. Those who survive report horrors equal to those that occurred within Nazi concentration camps. Prisoners endure torture and horrific living conditions that rob them of any trace of human dignity. As of yet, the United Nations has been unable to inspect the labor camps, although an increasing number of escapees are boldly stepping forward to raise international awareness of the human rights violations occurring behind the tightly guarded walls. In the eyes of the Kim dynasty, Christians pose the greatest threat to Juche and the totalitarian state, labeling them as the worst of political criminals. Christian worship of Jesus Christ directly violates the North Korean mandate to recognize Kim Il Sung as the ‘Eternal Sun of Human Mankind’. Like most North Koreans, Christians have been suffering from lack of food for at least two decades, and many face starvation, especially in the winter. Due to ongoing persecution, the church in North Korea resembles the one in the Book of Acts. North Korean Christians report that their lives are characterized by utter dependence on God for guidance, miracles and help. Survival, let alone the growth of the church, would be impossible otherwise. While undergoing continuous persecution,, North Korea’s underground church is flourishing! Prayer is not taken for granted by these believers, often praying for ten hours per day. They ask that we pray with, rather than for them. They pray for the growth of the church, both in numbers and faith, and for strong pastors, teachers and evangelists whom God will use to change the country from the inside out. Please join North Korean Christians in prayer for:

  • Those imprisoned in labor camps for their faith in Jesus; that they would be strengthened and encouraged by God to boldly share their faith with fellow prisoners and guards.
  • Pray for younger North Koreans; that they would question the Juche philosophy and have a burning desire to investigate the Christian doctrine that their leaders find so threatening.
  • Pray for a revival across both North Korea, and especially for Kim Jong Un and other leaders.
  • Finally, thank God for all that He is doing in North Korea, and pray that He continues to work through His Church there.

Amazingly, despite great risks, the underground North Korean church remains faithful to the Lord, is very much alive and continues to grow in numbers and strength! Believers feel encouraged by fellow believers’ prayers all over the world, and by the many Christians that visit their country. Your continued support and prayers give hope to North Korean Christians living in what is surely one of the most oppressive places on earth. Please join us in praying for the Christians in North Korea, and let us have great confidence in and praise God for what He has already done there! “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1

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