Communist and post-communist oppression
Chairman Kim Jong-un
North Korea has been at or near the top of the World Watch List for more than 20 years. That’s because any North Korean caught following Jesus is at immediate risk of imprisonment, brutal torture and death. An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are imprisoned in North Korea’s notorious system of prisons and labor camps. And, to make matters worse, often a family will share the same fate as the person captured. The government ruled by the Kim family views Christians as the most dangerous political class of people, and the persecution is violent and intense. North Korean parents often hide their faith from their children, churches of more than a few people are non-existent, and most worship is done as secretly as possible. Life for Christians in North Korea is a constant cauldron of pressure; capture or death is only a mistake away.
“From the perspective of other people, our life of suffering must seem like a cursed life; however, this suffering is a blessing from our Father who allowed it in our life because it is a shortcut to the Father. He knows our suffering and listens to our prayers. We thank our Father who has done such great things to prepare life for us.”
Because of the government’s closure of all borders as a COVID-19 precaution, Christians are even more at risk. Even the limited ability of some believers to escape to China for help with food and medicine has become even more difficult. In 2021, the government made a rare admission that the situation in North Korea is difficult, which was obvious to international observers who have warned about the impact of failed harvests on the North Korean people. Additionally, experts say North Korea’s network of prison camps has been expanded by at least 20,000 people.
Christians are, of course, affected by these realities. Where believers are known to authorities for past “crimes,” like possessing a Bible, they are on the lowest rung of society and neglected for whatever meager food aid is available. North Korea continues to be extremely dangerous for followers of Jesus, and it’s not likely to change any time soon unless the Kim regime is toppled.
Every Christian in North Korea is vulnerable and in danger.
Through our networks in China, Open Doors helps persecuted North Korean believers with emergency relief aid (food, medicine, clothes, etc.), Bibles, discipleship materials and training, worldwide prayer support and more. Open Doors also provides discipleship through radio broadcasts in other countries that are available (illegally) in North Korea.