Open Doors Blog

North Korea: Then and Now

Posted on July 23, 2014 by in Countries, Stories

North Korea Guards

The god-like worship in this closed nation, along with the harsh living  conditions are images that often come to mind when thinking of North Korea. While many ask God to change these circumstances and free the people of North Korea from this restrictive regime, we are reminded that persecution develops faith, and God is doing an amazing work in this country- in spite of the persecution! Take an in-depth look at what life is like for Christians in this closed off country:

Those owning a Bible can be punished with torture, execution or imprisonment in a labor camp. Parents live in fear that their children will be too open about family life, so they must appear seemingly loyal to the totalitarian state while secretly being disciples of Jesus. It is not uncommon for family members to betray one another, sinking under constant pressures to report Christian activities to authorities. Meetings with other Christians are rare, prevented by relentless surveillance. For these Christians, every morning comes with the realization that their faith in Jesus may cost them their very lives, as well as those they hold dear.

Christians in North Korea have been facing the world’s worst persecution for nearly 70 years. For the past twelve years, North Korea has ranked #1 on the Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution. Since leader Kim Il Sung came into power in 1945, he aimed to destroy and get rid of all religious, ideological and political thinking that might interfere with his philosophy known as Juche, or the complete self-reliance of North Korea. His grandson, current leader Kim Jong Un, sticks to his father’s and grandfather’s objective to exterminate all foreign influences from the country.

Lack of loyalty to the Kim dynasty and Juche is regarded as the worst of crimes, and is punished with prison time in one of North Korea’s many labor camps. Those who survive report horrors equal to those that occurred within Nazi concentration camps. Prisoners endure torture and horrific living conditions that rob them of any trace of human dignity. As of yet, the United Nations has been unable to inspect the labor camps, although an increasing number of escapees are boldly stepping forward to raise international awareness of the human rights violations occurring behind the tightly guarded walls.

In the eyes of the Kim dynasty, Christians pose the greatest threat to Juche and the totalitarian state, labeling them as the worst of political criminals. Christian worship of Jesus Christ directly violates the North Korean mandate to recognize Kim Il Sung as the ‘Eternal Sun of Human Mankind’. Like most North Koreans, Christians have been suffering from lack of food for at least two decades, and many face starvation, especially in the winter.

Due to ongoing persecution, the church in North Korea resembles the one in the Book of Acts. North Korean Christians report that their lives are characterized by utter dependence on God for guidance, miracles and help. Survival, let alone the growth of the church, would be impossible otherwise. While undergoing continuous persecution,, North Korea’s underground church is flourishing!

Prayer is not taken for granted by these believers, often praying for ten hours per day.  They ask that we pray with, rather than for them. They pray for the growth of the church, both in numbers and faith, and for strong pastors, teachers and evangelists whom God will use to change the country from the inside out.

Please join North Korean Christians in prayer for:

  • Those imprisoned in labor camps for their faith in Jesus; that they would be strengthened and encouraged by God to boldly share their faith with fellow prisoners and guards.
  • Pray for younger North Koreans; that they would question the Juche philosophy and have a burning desire to investigate the Christian doctrine that their leaders find so threatening.
  • Pray for a revival across both North Korea, and especially for Kim Jong Un and other leaders.
  • Finally, thank God for all that He is doing in North Korea, and pray that He continues to work through His Church there.

Amazingly, despite great risks, the underground North Korean church remains faithful to the Lord, is very much alive and continues to grow in numbers and strength! Believers feel encouraged by fellow believers’ prayers all over the world, and by the many Christians that visit their country.

Your continued support and prayers give hope to North Korean Christians living in what is surely one of the most oppressive places on earth. Please join us in praying for the Christians in North Korea, and let us have great confidence in and praise God for what He has already done there!

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1


  • Joshua Krug

    Colossians 1:15-17New International Version (NIV)

    The Supremacy of the Son of God

    15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

    Since the Father made every power for the Son, this idea of an independent Korea is not in conflict with the gospel. In fact, we are called to obedience to glorify God.

    Zechariah 14:9-19New International Version (NIV)

    9 The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.

    10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up high from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses, and will remain in its place. 11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.

    12 This is the plague with which the Lord will strike
    all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot
    while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in
    their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 On that day people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps. 16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord[a] will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 19 This
    will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations
    that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.

    Revelation 21:1-8New International Version (NIV)

    A New Heaven and a New Earth

    21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And
    I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling
    place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

    5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But
    the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually
    immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

    Revelation 21:22-27New International Version (NIV) 22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

    Both Peter and Paul tell us to be subject to authorities; he should not be afraid.