“We love them, and God loves them, and God has mercy upon them, so we are willing to dedicate ourselves to them. We are willing to die if we have to.“
Many governments persecute people of religious faith. However, one nation stands out: North Korea.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) ostentatiously treats anyone of faith, but especially Christians, as hostile.
“Christianity is not only seen as ‘opium of the people’ as is normal for all communist states; it is also seen as deeply Western and despicable,” explained Open Doors.
However, Chinese Christians are training missionaries to share the gospel in North Korea, saying they have “no fears” about the brutal treatment they may face.
One example of a Christian missionary facing horrendous violence in North Korea is the case of a Korean-Chinese church leader who evangelized in the country for 17 years before his body was found in the Tumen River in northeast China, stabbed 17 times.
The pastors knew of what happened to this man, but their commitment to go was unwavering.
His body was found stabbed 17 times in the Tumen River. “He was probably assassinated by the North Koreans,” the pastors said.
Speaking to China Aid on condition of anonymity, the two pastors said they were well aware of the dangers, but they were determined to share Christ with the people of North Korea.
Their translator paraphrased: “He [one of the pastors] shared something about the cruelty of how people will be mistreated in North Korea if they are found to be Christians, or if they ever say anything about Jesus. If they are North Koreans, their family will probably disappear, and the men will probably be beaten or have their hands chopped off. If they are women, you can imagine; maybe they will be raped by many people at the same time, Christian Today reports.
“So, he’s saying that, since you’re speaking of fear, their team is training [missionaries] who are fearless and also don’t have family. Like, they’re single, they’re not married yet, but they’re ready to lay down their lives for Christ at any time if they ever go to [North] Korea and meet any bad situations.”
“So that’s why we’re now building this fearless team of people who are willing to die if they have to. Because it’s not about ourselves, or about them, but all that matters is God’s kingdom,” one added.
“Because we love them, and God loves them, and God has mercy upon them, so we are willing to dedicate ourselves to them. We hope that everybody that can contribute their efforts to this ministry. We can be united together and accomplish the purpose together.”
The second pastor said: “We don’t want to be known by people. We just want to make our own efforts for Christ. We’re specially called by God to be in this ministry, which nobody else wants to do.”
Christians in North Korea face rape, torture, enslavement and being killed for their faith. Freedom of religion or belief “is largely non-existent” under dictator Kim Jong Un’s leadership, a damning report released by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) revealed.
“Religious beliefs are seen as a threat to the loyalty demanded by the Supreme Leader, so anyone holding these beliefs is severely persecuted,” the report said, noting: “Christians suffer significantly because of the anti-revolutionary and imperialist labels attached to them by the country’s leadership.”
Among the documented incidents against Christians are “being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges and trampled underfoot”.
Christianity has a long, surprising history in North Korea. Before the end of World War II, there were more Christians in what is now North Korea than there were in modern-day South Korea. And Pyongyang had many churches—even known to some observers as the “Jerusalem of the East.”
Estimates vary about how many Christians are currently in North Korea, but Open Doors places the number around 300,000, most of whom operate in secret networks of house churches.