11 February 2020

North Korean prisoner: photo smuggled out of the country

It's very, very rare for an image of a North Korean prisoner to get out of the country. This one was smuggled out of the country.

When a Christian is discovered in North Korea, it's very likely that they'll be sent to a horrendous labour camp for the rest of their lives. Tens of thousands of North Koreans end up in these terrible places, for many apparent 'reasons'. Open Doors estimates that there are currently 50,000-70,000 Christians imprisoned in these camps. It's the place where believers face the most extreme persecution.

It's very, very rare that the outside world ever sees photographs of these prisoners. They are hidden from the world.

But Open Doors has received images of two prisoners, including the photo below. The other photo, of a woman in a similar prison uniform, is less clear. The photos have been smuggled out of the country - we can't identify how, for security reasons.

North Korean prisoner

A prisoner in North Korea

We don't know who the man in this photo was, or why he has been imprisoned, or even which prison or labour camp he belongs to. He might be a Christian who has been imprisoned for his faith, or there may be any number of other reasons that he's ended up where he is. He might not even know the reason himself.

These prisoners are allowed to do agricultural work outside the camp, which makes them the 'lucky ones' - because, though it's illegal, they might have the opportunity to find edible plants, insects, snakes, rats or frogs. The food provision they get in a prison or labour camp is only about 500-600 calories per day. That's about half the minimum recommended amount.

We're sharing this photo because it shows the human reality of this tyrannical regime. When you pray for believers who are still in prison in North Korea, maybe it will help to picture this man.

Open Doors secret workers are keeping 60,000 North Korean believers alive with vital food and aid through its Chinese networks, as well smuggling in illegal Bibles, broadcasting Christian radio programmes and running safe houses at the Chinese border for those who are able to escape.

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Please pray

  • For North Korean Christians who have been imprisoned for their faith would know God's sustaining comfort and love
  • For protection for secret believers in North Korea, and that they would find ways to meet together and encourage each other
  • That Open Doors' secret workers would be able to get vital aid to those who need it.


Lord, please protect our Nigerian brothers and sisters as they face extreme persecution. Grant dignity and peace to Christian women who have been mistreated, that they will be seen, valued and empowered to reach their God-given potential. Please convict Islamic extremists of their sin and turn them to You.

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