Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - North Korea ‘enforces absolute denial of religious freedom’, according to new independent report - Open Doors UK & Ireland
02 September 2021

North Korea ‘enforces absolute denial of religious freedom’, according to new independent report

A new report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom reinforces the horrific lengths the North Korean government is going to remove all trace of Christian belief in the country.

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The findings of the new report are a welcome contribution towards efforts to draw greater attention to the awful plight of our persecuted family in North Korea

North Korea aims to root out Christianity and is trying to do so through an ‘absolute denial of religious freedom’, says a new report.

“Our findings establish that the persecution of individuals exercising their right to religious freedom in North Korea goes well beyond a government neglecting its duty to respect, protect, and fulfil the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief,” states the report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. 

“It also extends beyond a government persecuting one or more social groups for their religion or belief,” the report continues. “Rather, the situation that exists is one where the state enforces the absolute denial of religious belief through the active mobilisation of organs of the government.”

The findings of this report won’t come as a surprise to Open Doors supporters. You will probably be aware than North Korea is number one on the Open Doors World Watch List, making it the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian. There are an estimated 50-70,000 believers in horrendous prisons and labour camps, from which few are ever released. The new report is a welcome contribution towards efforts to draw global attention to the awful plight of our persecuted family in North Korea. 

Systemic campaign to ‘exterminate all Christian adherents and institutions’ 

During 2020 and 2021, researchers conducted interviews with survivors, witnesses and even perpetrators of religious-freedom violations, the majority of whom had fled North Korea in 2019. Of the cases identified involving people who had been prosecuted by the state for their faith or belief, more than a third were Christians.

The report details incidents involving arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

“The campaign to exterminate all Christian adherents and institutions in North Korea has been brutally effective, and continues through the work of the Ministry of State Security, networks of informants that stretch into China, the presence of 'no-exit' political prison camps, executions and an educational and organisational system that deters adherence through schools, workplaces and neighbourhoods,” the report adds.

Ideological education enforced on youth

North Korea's ruling party has been devoted to obtaining and keeping political and ideological control. In a recent editorial in its official newspaper, it called on North Koreans to adopt and embrace ‘socialist ideology’. Economic development must go hand-in-hand with ideological education if the country wants to continue building on its socialist foundation, it said.

“The paper in particular warned the North Korean youth against adopting foreign ideology, saying that the main target of the cultural 'infiltration of the imperialists' are the young generations," reported South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

Open Doors secret workers are keeping 90,000 North Korean believers alive with vital food and aid through networks in China, as well as providing shelter and training for North Korean refugees in China. This is possible because of the faithful support of Open Doors supporters, like you. Thank you! And thank you for your ongoing prayers, which are playing an instrumental role in helping our North Korean brothers and sisters stand strong in their faith.

Please pray

Heavenly Father, our hearts grieve over what our brothers and sisters experience in North Korea. Give Your people strength to endure persecution. May they know the warmth, comfort and hope of Your presence right now. Use this report to bring wider attention to their suffering, resulting in more being done to provoke significant change for Christians in North Korea. May the light of Jesus continue to shine in the country, through Your children. Amen.

Standing Strong Live – Saturday 25 September

Would you like to hear from Christians in India and the Middle East? Join Open Doors live on Saturday 25 September for our annual event as we gather online with our persecuted brothers and sisters. Hear their stories first-hand, be challenged to pray and moved to act.


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