Please pray as COVID-19 ravages North Korea

May 20, 2022 by Christopher Summers in Persecution updates

On May 12, more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un met with the Workers’ Party and declared the country’s first cases of COVID had been identified in the capital city of Pyongyang. He also declared a “maximum emergency” for virus controls.


Soon, officials confirmed more than 1.7 million cases of people with fever symptoms, a likely euphemism for COVID-19 infections.

Open Doors sources say that the situation in North Korea is worse than what’s described in the media. With Kim reinforcing strict lockdowns throughout all the regions of North Korea to prevent the spread of the virus, our work, such as secret Christian deliveries and safe house ministry through our networks in China, may be affected.

Since it started in China in late 2019, COVID-19 has become one of the most troublesome hindrances to Open Doors’ work with North Korean believers. It’s also deeply impacted the people there. We received reports from secret believers that said the situation in North Korea after it was even more isolated during COVID-19 was “like hell.” Additionally, it’s quite likely the virus was already rampant in North Korea, with one believer saying it was referred to as the “ghost disease” and was killing people who were already malnourished. Even now, with case numbers approaching 2 million, no one is sure if North Korea will accept the offer of vaccines—which they have declined so far.

In our networks in China that work with North Korean believers, field workers and local coworkers have tried to search for opportunities amid the rigid situation—which made it difficult for any North Koreans to make it to China. Praise God that He has faithfully guided all the projects and ministries.

But now that coronavirus cases have been made official from North Korea, more prayers are needed for North Korean ministries and projects, field workers and local coworkers, for His protection and guidance.

Most importantly, prayers are needed for the underground Christians of North Korea. The regional lockdown has crushed the economy of the country, raising the prices of everyday products and food exponentially. The government is serious about social control and tracks all the suspicious activities, meetings, travels and possession of any items they view as abnormal. Prayers are needed for the underground church believers that God will keep them strong through the pandemic and fill all their physical and spiritual needs.

We’ve recently received a secret letter from one of the underground church leaders in North Korea: “Especially through the coronavirus pandemic and several great natural disasters that followed the virus, things seem to threaten us in every way … Difficulties and hindrances lay hidden here and there, but because we know that the Lord allows us to unite together as one to share the faith and fellowship, we walk upon the way of a pilgrim that trusts and follows the Lord.”

Let’s be of one heart for the underground believers of North Korea, who are fixing their eyes onto the “eternal glory in Christ [that we will cherish] after suffering for a little while.” (1 Pet. 5:10)

Pray with your sisters and brothers there:

  • Ask God to be with His people who worship Him in secret in North Korea. Pray that He will keep them safe as the government looks on its people with increased scrutiny.
  • Pray for the people of North Korea. They already lived in intense economic desperation after borders were closed during the first wave of the pandemic. With this new admission of cases inside North Korea, the economy could grow even worse, leading to famine conditions.
  • Pray for God to change the hearts of North Korea’s leaders. Ask Him to bring them to the saving knowledge of God’s love.