Kim-Su*, a hidden Christian living in COVID-stricken North Korea, is one of several believers who recently received secret deliveries from our local partners—through our networks in China—and shared their gratitude. The aid comes in a dire situation for the country.
North Korean officials have finally shared publicly that the COVID pandemic has reached their people. The admission likely comes after two years of reports that North Koreans are dying from the “ghost disease” (used by North Koreans to describe COVID). Because North Korea’s government strives to maintain a façade of superiority and only makes public announcements when the situation is desperate, it’s widely believed that the pandemic is now ravaging the country. Our Christian brothers and sisters living behind the country’s closed borders need our prayers now more than ever.
We recently received reports from our local partners who were able share more details about what’s happening inside the country, how Open Doors partners are responding and even thank you messages from recipients of secret deliveries, like Kim-Su.
A month’s salary for 2 pounds of rice
Brother Simon*, our director on the ground in Asia, outlines the situation for North Koreans: “North Korea has no means to defend itself against something like the COVID pandemic. There’s no vaccine, there are no medicines and there are no tests. How are people going to survive?”
According to the BBC, the country is in a national lockdown, with those living in major cities confined to their homes. An already hungry people—who have been fighting famine for years—are now forced into their homes with little to no food.
Prices have now quadrupled, Brother Simon said, adding that 2 pounds of rice cost multiple months’ salary. “The only thing the government could do was impose lockdowns. Marketplaces were closed, even though the population is completely dependent on black markets. But even if they were to open, there is little food to buy.”
Being locked down has also prevented the acquisition of what scattered medicines there are. Medications have been scarce for years, and the North Korean army has been ordered to disperse its own stockpiles. Shockingly, with no vaccines or other medicines, the government has told its people to “gargle salt water” to fight their symptoms.
“We pray for your gracious hands”
Our field workers are doing everything they can to help underground believers during this crisis. Despite travel regulation and surveillance, which makes it nearly impossible to send secret deliveries (containing food, clothing, medicine and other necessities), God’s grace has allowed them to continue to serve persecuted and isolated underground Christians.
We’ve heard from some recipients of these secret deliveries:
“Thank you for the deliveries. We received them and have distributed them without trouble. Everyone is so grateful, and we again pray for your gracious hands today.”
“Every day, when we pray, we think about you. For the first time of the year, we are able to eat white rice for our meal. We can never thank you enough.”
“Despite all the difficulties we may face, we hold onto the Lord. Thank you to our brothers and sisters from all around the world and your support through [secret] deliveries. With every box of medicine and every piece of cloth, we experience such precious care and love.”