North Korea is the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian. Leading the World Watch List for the 16th year in a row, it’s clear that having anything to do with Christianity is impossible without persecution. It’s also one of the most closed off countries on the planet. Many people have never seen what goes on inside its borders.
North Korea has made headlines recently with illegal nuclear testing and threats of war. The United Nations have now placed the harshest penalties on North Korea in the nation’s history. And the government has cut people’s rations to just 300 grams of food a day – that’s less than two cups of rice.
This year marks 72 years since Korea split in two. So, what does life look like for those living in North Korea today?
People are divided into social classes. Christians belong to the poorest of these classes and their access to basic needs and employment is limited. Without enough food to survive many are forced to flee.
Owning or producing any religious material is illegal. Christians try to memorise as many scriptures as possible to avoid being caught with a Bible. If their faith is discovered their families are also arrested and face years in labour camps. Parents are unable to share their faith with their own children. From a young age, children must attend weekly indoctrination sessions. No one can develop independent ideas.
God at Work
The BBC announced that two in five North Koreans are undernourished. And the situation is even worse for Christians, with many in prison camps. “I was locked up for years in Camp 25 near Chongjin,” said one North Korean refugee. Along with other Christians, they endured torture and harsh working conditions daily.
The Church has survived this kind of persecution for 72 years. Today 300,000 North Koreans still follow Jesus. Many gather in underground churches, risking their lives for their faith.