For 18 years, North Korea has topped the Open Doors list of countries which persecute Christians.
/ October 2, 2023
North Korea’s new “Anti-reactionary thought law” states that “being a Christian and/or possessing a Bible is a serious crime and will be severely punished,” an Open Doors 2023 report noted.
According to the U.S. State Department, North Korea has imprisoned around 70,000 citizens who are Christians.
For decades, North Koreans have been arrested, and sometimes executed, for possessing religious items, expressing religious views, or practicing religion.
In 2009, a family, including a 2-year-old, were given life sentences in prison camps because of their religious practices and possession of a Bible, the Open Doors report said.
The North Korean Religious Freedom Database states that a mother in her 30s was killed at Hyesan Airfield for having a Bible, leaving her two children homeless after her husband was detained.
A member of the Korean Workers’ Party who was caught with a Bible was captured by the communists and then executed at Hyesan Airfield in front of 3,000 people.
In 2008, a man in his 40s was executed after being caught reading a Bible while in a concentration camp.
According to reports, more than 120 people were killed, 94 went missing, 79 were injured, 53 were forcefully moved to a different location, 826 were detained, 147 were immobilized, and 86 received other forms of punishment for their Christian beliefs.
One witness indicated that “guards beat a Christian man who had been praying to the brink of death, leaving him bleeding on the ground. The man, however, continued to pray daily, even as guards beat him with a club and kicked him with their boots on.”
Christians are the most targeted religious group worldwide, experiencing various forms of attacks due to their faith, including verbal abuse, physical violence, and even killings, according to a 2020 report by Pew Research. This trend was observed in 145 countries out of 198. The persecution of Christians has been on the rise for more than a decade. As of January 2023, an estimated 360 million Christians reside in countries where they encounter significant levels of discrimination or persecution.
Last year, according to Christianity Today, more than 5,600 Christians were killed due to their faith. More than 2,100 churches were either closed or attacked. More than 70 churches were set on fire in Canada. Over 124,000 Christians were compelled to flee their homes due to their faith while 15,000 people had to become refugees on account of their religious beliefs.
Open Doors said the top 10 countries with the highest levels of persecution towards Christians are North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Sudan.
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