5 May 2016

Korean Chinese Pastor Martyred by North Korean Spies

North Korean secret agents have martyred a Korean Chinese pastor who lived in Chiangbai, a town on the Chinese side of the Sino-Korean border. Han Choong Yeol was active in helping North Korean refugees by giving them food, medicines, clothes and other goods they needed for survival back in North Korea.

Last Saturday (April 30th), pastor Han left his home just after noon and was supposed to return before 5 pm. When he didn't come back, a large search was set up. Around 8 pm his lifeless body was found, visibly maimed by stab and axe wounds. People who worked with Han describe him as "extremely passionate for North Koreans". His ministry came with a price. In November 2014 a deacon of his church was kidnapped and never heard of again. Pastor Han knew he was a target too, but continued his ministry. Han was 49 and leaves a wife, a son and a daughter as well as the local Three Self-Church (600 members) he pastored.

North Korea is the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian according to Open Doors, which publishes an annual list of the 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted. Exact figures are not known for secretive North Korea but it is estimated that 50,000-70,000 Christians are currently imprisoned in labour camps because of their faith. Christianity is illegal, all Christians worship in secret and risk torture, imprisonment and even death to do so. Many Christian parents cannot even tell their children about their faith.  Open Doors works through partner organisations on the ground to supply persecuted Christians with emergency relief aid such as food, medicines and clothes. The charity also distributes Christian literature and provides training through radio broadcasting.

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Note to Editors

For interviews please ring Open Doors Press Office on 01993 777346 / 07484 000441

For more background on Open Doors work in North Korea and to read the story of a North Korean refugee see http://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/worldwatch/north_korea.php

Open Doors world watch list map and rankings can be found at http://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/country_profiles.php

North Korea – interesting facts http://www.opendoorsuk.org/news/stories/north_korea_160212.php

Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for 60 years. Last year supporters in the UK and Ireland raised over £11.7 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources, in over 60 countries.