Year: 2020
World Watch List: 01
Score: 94
Leader: Kim Jong-Un
Population: 25.7 million
Christian: 300,000
Main Religion: Atheism/Traditional Beliefs
Government: Communist
Source of Persecution: Dictatorial Paranoia
The scope of work of Open Doors focused on in North Korea includes:
  • Supplying persecuted believers who have managed to leave NK with emergency relief aid (food, medicines, clothes, etc.)
  • Training through radio broadcasting
  • Providing, shelter, aid, training and training materials to believers who have managed to leave NK (who often travel back to NK)

“Later, when I looked back, I realised that neither I nor the underground Christians in North Korea were living alone or fighting the fight alone… It was an immense boost to know that there existed people who prayed for us and provided both spiritual and physical aid so that we could be victorious”

– North Korean Christian, Minsoo (pseudonym)


Source of persecution: Dictatorial Paranoia / Communist and post-Communist oppression

The paranoid dictator
There is probably no other country on earth where dictatorial paranoia fits better; it affects everything in North Korea. Police raids aiming to identify and uproot citizens with deviating thoughts – including Christians – have reportedly increased.

Living in utmost secrecy
If North Korean Christians are discovered, not only are they deported to labour camps as political criminals or even killed on the spot, their families will share their fate as well. In the labour camps, prisoners are worked like slaves and often tortured; most are never able to escape. Christians do not have the slightest space in society; meeting other Christians in order to worship is almost impossible and if some dare to, it has to be done in utmost secrecy. The churches shown to visitors in Pyongyang serve mere propaganda purposes.

Believers must keep their faith completely secret. If a Christian has a Bible, or part of one, it will be carefully hidden and only read when the believer is sure they are alone. Most Christians do not even tell their own children about their faith until they are older teenagers for fear that they may let something slip.

Jesus is worth the risks
And yet, our brothers and sisters in North Korea have decided that knowing Jesus is worth the risks they face. The church in North Korea is not only surviving, but growing – and they have great hope for the future. One Christian has shared: “One day the borders will open and we will unite with the South Korean and the Chinese church to bring the gospel to some of the darkest places on this earth.”

Please pray:

  • For Christians who suffer in prisons, labour camps, and remote areas. Pray that God will give the North Korean church strength and endurance.
  • For those who came to know Christ while they were away from North Korea. Pray that their faith and knowledge of God will grow even when they are back in North Korea.
  • North Korea heads up the World Watch List for the 17th consecutive year. Pray that the country’s rulers, especially Kim Jong Un will come to know God.

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2020 World Watch List Map

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