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North Korea: Political trends and Christian persecution in 2016

The situation of Christians in North Korea does not seem to have improved during this past year.

SECRET BELIEVERS AUTOR 127/Open_Doors_Spain 15 DE DICIEMBRE DE 2016 16:06 h
Between 300.000 and 400.000 Christians live in North Korea, according to Open Doors estimations. It is also feared that 100.000 of them are either imprisoned or living in labour camps.

Next January 11th, Open Doors’ World Watch List 2017 will be released and the situation of Christians in North Korea does not seem to have improved during this past year.

Brother Simon*, OD worker who keeps contact with North Korean Christians, has recently shared some of the 2016 trends in North Korean policy and Christian persecution:

“North Korea is still a dictatorial country, where finding food is always a challenge, and people have no freedom to think and do what they want. The political issues, like nuclear tests, missile tests etc, are always changing. North Korea responds to the US and South Korea joint war drills with these tests, and the US and South Korea respond to these tests with new sanctions, which makes North Korea upset. It’s a strong and vicious cycle that has its impact on ordinary people. How? From time to time they have to go through these ‘mobilization periods’ and ‘harvest battles’. People must work longer and are forced to do ‘volunteer’ work.

At the same time, there are more crackdowns on people who own illegal literature, CDs, DVDs and other digital materials. The contents of those materials range from pornography to popular music, videos and Christian Korean films. Phone conversations are also much more monitored in the border areas and people who are caught making illegal phone calls to China or – even worse – to South Korea, are severely punished.

The Chinese-Korean border area and the illegal smuggling taking place there, is vital for the survival of people, especially in the Northern provinces of North Korea.

The nuclear tests make China upset, so they put more soldiers near the border, which forces the North Korean army to do the same, making much harder for smugglers to cross with goods”.

For Christians, it’s also harder to cross the border. So, we see less NKs go into China. The murder of Pastor Han in March 2016 also caused China to take strong measures. Christian workers have been warned about threats from North Korean secret agents and the area is monitored much more severely. As a result, even fewer North Koreans try to cross the border and it makes it more difficult for anyone who wants to help those who manage to cross into China.


Bridge torn down during the Korean war, in the Yalu River between North Korea and China.


Thankful words from North Korean Christians

Brother Simon* wanted to share some of the words he received from brothers and sisters living secretly their faith inside de North Korean borders. These are some of them:

“We pray that our underground church will be like the church in Philadelphia. This church never betrayed our Heavenly God, but kept His words until the end even though the group of believers was weak and small… It is easy to break off a branch, but a thick tree cannot be broken. Our secret church is like the thick tree… We are strengthened in our faith in Christ because of the supports and encouragement which you and many supporters around the world send to us. We are renewed because of the support of all your supporters. I pray for all fellow workers in Christ. They truly are our brothers and sisters. I pray for their physical and spiritual well-being.” - North Korean Christian

“We were just told by other believers that God has mobilized Christians outside this country to pray for us and help us practically. We are astonished that God loves us so much that He uses brothers and sisters we don’t know to support us. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” – North Korean Christian family

“We praise and worship our God who protects our believers. We truly are special children for Him, and receive abundant Heavenly blessings… Please know that every small or big thing you do for us is like a beautiful song in the ear of our Heavenly God. We want our next generation in Christ to spread what you have started for us… Let me close by saying that I pray for you (Brother Simon*) and your supporters. I pray they will receive more blessings from our Father in Heaven.” – North Korean Christian

“When we received your materials and support, we were filled with Jesus’ love and grace. We are passionate to do our utmost to help the secret church in North Korea and feel so thankful for what you have done. We – secret believers – are weak and powerless. However, through your support and prayers, we become stronger.” – North Korean Christian.


North Korea has ranked 1st at the Open Doors’ World Watch List in the past fourteen years.


Campaign to support secret believers

This September, because of the worsening situation of secret believers in North Korea and around the world, Puertas Abiertas (Open Doors Spain) has launched a fundraising campaign aiming to raise up to 8.000€ through unique donations in order to strengthen the help being brought to secret believers around the world.

You can support the Secret Church in North Korea with your prayer and financial support to Open Doors projects. You may find the “Project for religious freedom: Secret believers” project in the GivingTuesday website (Spanish) o Migranodearena website (Spanish), and be part of the Christian response to persecution. 




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06:52 h
The Chinese-Korean border area and the illegal smuggling taking place there, is vital for the survival of people, especially in the Northern provinces of North Korea.

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