Year: 2021
World Watch List: 01
Score: 94
Leader: Kim Jong-Un
Population: 25.8 million
Christian: 400,000
Main Religion: Atheism/Traditional Beliefs
Government: Communist
Source of Persecution: Dictatorial Paranoia
What does Open Doors do to help North Korean Christians?

Open Doors secret workers are keeping 90,000 believers who have fled North Korea alive with vital food and aid through its networks, as well as providing Bibles, training through Christian radio broadcasting, and providing shelter and training for North Korean refugees.

Meet “Prisoner 42”

I am in solitary confinement, because they suspect the truth. They can see through my denials in the interrogation room. Because I love Jesus.

“Am I a Christian? Yes. But I have to pretend. If I admit that I was helped by Christians, I will be killed – either quickly or slowly.”


Persecution Type: Communist and post-Communist oppression/Dictatorial paranoia

What does persecution look like in North Korea?

Being discovered as a Christian is a death sentence in North Korea. If you aren’t killed instantly, you will be taken to a labor camp as a political criminal. These inhumane prisons have horrific conditions, and few believers make it out alive. Everyone in your family will share the same punishment. Kim Jong-un is reported to have expanded the system of prison camps, in which an estimated 50-70,000 Christians are currently imprisoned.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Any Christian, anywhere in North Korea, is extremely vulnerable to persecution. The North Korean authorities’ control goes beyond the borders: Secret agents are tasked with finding and abducting North Korean Christians who have fled the country.


  • Pray for North Korea’s secret believers, that God will continue to strengthen them, provide for their needs and keep them safe. 
  • Pray for the believers who are imprisoned. Pray for comfort and strength for them, and that even in prison, they would know God’s presence and love. 
  • Despite the risks, we have heard stories of believers sharing the gospel with others, even in North Korean prison camps. Pray that North Korean believers will shine as lights in the darkest places on earth.
  • Ask that God would bless the work of Open Doors’ secret networks, and give wisdom and discernment to those providing vital aid and fellowship to North Korean believers.

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    Related News

    “Will I survive this hell?” The Story of Prisoner 42

    “Your name is the first thing they take. Then they take your freedom. They take your health. They take away the presence of other people.
    They take your clothes. And your hair. And finally, they take away the daylight.”

    “I am amazed so many care for us”—North Korean believer leaves ‘farewell’ letter

    Her parents served in the underground church in North Korea for decades. She managed to escape from North Korea earlier this year where she visited an Open Doors safe house and received food, fellowship and pastoral care. After she was strengthened physically and spiritually, she was able to return to North Korea.

    North Korean Christians Are Suffering Under The ‘Ghost Disease’ Of COVID-19

    The “ghost disease.” That’s what North Koreans call COVID-19. “People can be sick without knowing it,” Brother Simon*, Open Doors’ coordinator for ministry among North Koreans, says. “They are usually malnourished already. Then suddenly, they die quickly. Some even just fall dead on the ground. It’s an invisible killer.”

    2020 World Watch List Map

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