A new report details how North Korea remains the most difficult country for Christians to live in as they are persecuted for their faith.
Between 2019-2020, the nonprofit Korea Future Initiative conducted 173 interviews, with a total of 273 victims in a 98-page report.
The following list demonstrates reveal various cases of religious freedom violations, as explained by respondents:
- 244 incidents of arbitrary arrest (which means there was no likelihood or evidence of a crime or no due process of law—depriving people of liberty and their rights)
- 79 incidents of forced return to North Korea by refugees;
- 36 incidents of torture or sustained physical assault;
- 32 incidents of sexual violence;
- 20 incidents of execution
According to persecution watchdog Open Doors, North Korea has been number one on its World Watch List of countries where Christians are persecuted for 20 years.
An estimated 50,000-70,000 Christians in the communist-run country are often sent to labor camps or prison because of their faith.
One ex-prisoner named Hea Woo, whose husband passed away in prison, told Open Doors that men and women were subjected to rough working conditions and often died due to malnutrition.
“They were all hopeless and in despair. And plus, they were starving. Each person received one handful of rotten corn, [and] there was nothing else to eat. We got something watery—it wasn’t even a soup. We got those [rotten kernels] as food for the whole year. Nothing else,” she said.
“And people are obliged to work more than cows or animals.” she continued. “Because everyone is forced to do labor, people die from malnutrition. People died in accidents while working, too.”
An anonymous woman, “Prisoner 42,” explained how North Korean Christians who successfully fled to nearby China, another country that persecutes Christians, are further mistreated for their faith and are sent back to North Korea.
The report by Korea Future Initiative notes that Christians in North Korea experience extreme levels of persecution including, sudden imprisonment, violent interrogations, execution and even forced abortions.
Nevertheless, God continues to still work with His people no matter what they are facing.
Respondents in the report show that prisoners are sharing their faith with others in prison. One case details how a witness recounted how another prisoner told her, “‘God sent me here for you.’”
She continued, “eventually I listened to her […] she was a light that came and warmed me when I was drowning in my sorrow […] I would have killed myself if it were not for her.”
Another respondent shared how one prisoner would share the Gospel and speak in tongues in the cell, in the respondent recognized in light of passages from the Bible.
“Other prisoners in the cell did not know what this person was doing under the blanket, but I knew,” the respondent said.