With the start of the Winter Olympics the world’s attention is focused on Korea. The joint Korean women’s ice hockey team and the pro-unification flag show that North Korea is attempting to present a more friendly face to the world. But Open Doors is asking people not to forget the thousands of Christians persecuted under the brutal Kim regime.
Dr Matthew Rees, Advocacy Policy Officer at Open Doors, said, “As many nations come together to take part in the Winter Olympics, let us not forget that every day over 300,000 Christians are denied the right to take part in the religious observance of their choice. They are a beleaguered community who are fighting for their very survival.”
Every aspect of life in North Korea is controlled by the state. The belief that God is a higher authority than the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is seen as a threat that must be crushed. Tens of thousands of Christians are incarcerated in horrific labour camps, and thousands more keep their faith in Christ a complete secret. “They ignore all freedoms,” said Timothy, a North Korean refugee. “The human rights level is zero per cent. Religions are not allowed. The leader of North Korea has to be worshipped as god, and this will not change unless the regime collapses.”
Incredibly, despite this tremendous persecution, the church in North Korea is growing – Open Doors estimates that there are 300,000 courageous Christians in North Korea, who are in desperate need of encouragement.
As a way to support North Korean believers and to understand their hardship, pain and courage, Open Doors is asking people to Live like a North Korean with their Lent resource of the same name.
Many secret believers in North Korea are strengthened by the knowledge that Christians around the world are standing with them. One North Korean secret believer said, “We don’t know your names or your faces. Still you support us. Thanks to you we are holding on.”
Daily Bible readings, prayers and actions help you to experience a little of what North Korean Christians endure every day. You might end up buying your Bible or surviving a day without electricity. These actions cannot replicate the reality of our dear brothers and sisters, but with prayerful reflection they can provide a window into the world of a North Korean Christian.
Live like a North Korean is a free resource, packed with daily prayers and reflections and weekly challenges to connect you with your persecuted North Korean family. It is available to order from the Open Doors website.
North Korea is number 1 on the 2018 Open Doors World Watch List. Persecution is led by the state which sees Christians as hostile elements that have to be eradicated. Due to constant indoctrination, neighbours and family members, including children, are highly watchful and report anything suspicious to the authorities. If Christians are discovered, they are deported to labour camps as political criminals or killed on the spot; their families share their fate. Meeting for worship is almost impossible, so is done in utmost secrecy. The churches shown to visitors in Pyongyang serve mere propaganda purposes.