|Persecution Type:||Communist and Post-communist Oppression|
The primary driver of Christian persecution in North Korea is the state. For three generations, everything in the country has focused on idolizing the leading Kim family. Christians are seen as hostile elements in society that have to be eradicated. There was hope that new diplomatic efforts in 2018—including the 2018 Winter Olympics—would mean a lessening of pressure and violence against Christians, but so far that has not been the case. Kim Jong Un has maintained his tight control over the populace, and dissent or worshiping anything else is not tolerated.
If Christians are discovered, not only are they deported to labor camps as political criminals or even killed on the spot, their families will share their fate as well. Christians do not even have the slightest space in society, on the contrary, they are publicly warned against. Meeting other Christians in order to worship is almost impossible and if some believers dare to, it has to be done in utmost secrecy. The churches shown to visitors in Pyongyang serve mere propaganda purposes.
Due to the extremely difficult security situation, it is very difficult to share examples. Pastor Dong-cheol Kim (arrested in 2015) and two Korean-American Christian lecturers at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), Tony Kim and Hak-song Kim (arrested in April and May 2017 respectively) were all accused of espionage but released ahead of the US-North Korean summit in June 2018. In a change of hiring policy, PUST is now reportedly looking for non-American staff, a logical consequence from the travel ban for US citizens.
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