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#2 in Christian persecution, North Korea






Communist and post-communist oppression










Single-party dictatorship


Chairman Kim Jong-un


Violence 13.1/16.7

Church Life 16.7/16.7

National Life 16.7/16.7

Community Life 16.7/16.7

Family Life 16.7/16.7

Private Life 16.7/16.7

What does persecution look like in North Korea?

North Korea has been at or near the top of the World Watch List for more than 20 years. Thats 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 Koreas 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.

Meet Bae, a Christian living in North Korea

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.

What has changed this year?

Because of the governments 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 its not likely to change any time soon unless the Kim regime is toppled.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Every Christian in North Korea is vulnerable and in danger.

What does Open Doors do to help?

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.

Christian population number is an Open Doors estimate.

Pray for North Korea

  • Christians in North Korea are in danger. Pray for Christians who worship secretly, Christians who are in prison, and the families of Christians who have been arrested or killed. Ask God to be with these believers and to strengthen them to find hope and see His hand at work in their lives.

  • Pray for the heart of Kim Jong Un and the other leaders of the North Korean regime. The Kim family has led for so long and brutally opposed God’s people. Pray for a change of heart, that Kim might see the beauty of the gospel and the love Jesus has for him.

  • Open Doors’ networks in China are vital to keep the North Korean church up and running—many of the Christians who make it to our safe houses in China return home, equipped to carry the gospel to small pockets of believers. Pray for the success and safety of these safe houses, and for the travels of North Korean Christians who make the dangerous trek to and from China.

Stories from North Korea

January 19, 2022

The 10 most dangerous places for Christians

January 11, 2022

‘This suffering is a blessing’: A message from inside North Korea

January 6, 2022

How the gospel spreads in North Korea

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