Fill 1






Persecution Type

Communist and post-communist oppression



Persecution Level







Single-party dictatorship


Chairman Kim Jong-un

Profile of Persecution

Violence 11.1/16.7
Church Life 16.7/16.7
National Life 16.7/16.7
Community Life 16.7/16.7
Family Life 16.7/16.7
Private Life 16.7/16.7

What does persecution look like in North Korea? What is life like for Christians?

Being discovered as a Christian is a death sentence in North Korea. If you aren’t killed instantly, you will be taken to a labor camp as a political criminal. These inhumane prisons have horrific conditions, and few believers make it out alive. Everyone in your family will share the same punishment. Kim Jong-un is reported to have expanded the system of prison camps, in which an estimated 50-70,000 Christians are currently imprisoned.

Most Christians are unable to meet with other believers, and have to keep their faith entirely hidden. There are even stories of husbands and wives not knowing, for many years, that their spouse was also a Christian.

Secret police carry out raids to identify Christians, and children are encouraged to tell their teachers about any sign of faith in their parents’ home. A Christian is never safe.

Meet “Hee-Yol”

“I ask those who have been praying for North Korea from all around the world to pray for North Korea to be able to come to the gospel. The North Korean citizens are like slaves. With the light of the Lord, they would be freed.”

What has changed in North Korea?

The year 2021 is the 20th year in a row that North Korea has been ranked as the country where Christians face the most extreme persecution. North Korean Christians continue to face extreme persecution in every element of their public and private lives.

Though the North Korean authorities claim that COVID-19 has had little impact in the country, North Koreans call it the “ghost disease”—because people are so malnourished already that they die very quickly from COVID-19. The pandemic has led to tighter security at the Chinese border.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Any Christian, anywhere in North Korea, is extremely vulnerable to persecution. The North Korean authorities’ control goes beyond the borders: Secret agents in China are tasked with finding and abducting North Korean Christians who have fled the country.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in North Korea?

Open Doors secret workers are keeping 90,000 North Korean believers alive with vital food and aid through safe houses and networks in China, as well as providing Bibles, training through Christian radio broadcasting, and providing shelter and training for North Korean refugees in China.

Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).
Number of Christians statistic is an Open Doors estimate 

Pray for North Korea

  • Pray for North Korea’s secret believers, that God will continue to strengthen them, provide for their needs and keep them safe.
  • Pray for the believers who are imprisoned. Pray for comfort and strength for them, and that even in prison, they would know God’s presence and love.
  • Despite the risks, we have heard stories of believers sharing the gospel with others, even in North Korean prison camps. Pray that North Korean believers will shine as lights in the darkest places on earth.
  • Ask that God would bless the work of Open Doors’ secret networks in China, and give wisdom and discernment to those providing vital aid and fellowship to North Korean believers who are able to make it to Chinese safe houses.

Stories from North Korea

October 11, 2021

‘This situation is like hell’— North Korean Christian sends new updates

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September 17, 2021

How God speaks in North Korea—even to an unbelieving heart

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July 27, 2021

Surviving the dead god of North Korea

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