orth Korea is ranked as the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian. The closed country is under the despotic rule of President Kim Jongun and strict communist control. His grandfather, Supreme leader Kim Il-sung, established the state ideology of Juche, or human “self-reliance”. However, back in 1907, Pyongyang was known as the “Jerusalem of the East” after a Protestant revival, and until 1945, the north was the powerhouse of Korean Christianity.
Some Christians in North Korea have been executed for the “crime” of owning a Bible, and tens of thousands – sometimes entire families – have been incarcerated in political labour camps where they are abused, tortured and worked to death. Christians are often singled out for the worst treatment in the camps. Three generations have been punished for the “crime” of one Christian member.
Christians have to keep their faith completely secret. Many parents dare not even let their own children know they follow Christ, as pupils are encouraged at school to report on their parents if they see them praying or reading the Scriptures.
A traditional North Korean social classification system of songbun specifies where you can live, work and even what you can eat, according to your paternal ancestors’ “loyalty” in the time of Japanese rule. Any perceived disloyalty is punished with a low songbun. People living in the same songbun neighbourhood are punished if they do not report neighbours they suspect to be Christian to the authorities.
The state tightly controls the media and prevents North Koreans from getting any information outside of what the government provides. Access to Christian literature is extremely limited.
Every year, thousands attempt to escape to China or South Korea. The Chinese government is thought to conspire with the North Korean authorities to forcibly repatriate those who manage to cross the border. According to an official who defected, escapees are tortured until they reveal where they have been and who they have contacted. Any suspected of being Christian are especially targeted.
Ask the Lord to protect Christians in North Korea from danger and betrayal. Pray especially for those facing death, torture and abuse in the labour camps.