North Korea, East Asia
Political Leader: Premier Kim Jong-il
Religions: Non-Religious 64.3%, Other 18%, Traditional 16%, Christianity 1.7%
Persecution Ranking: 1
Number of Terrorist Groups: None Listed
Acts of Terrorism: Not Listed; Casualties: Not Listed
Percent of Corruption: 90%
% of People in Poverty: Not Ranked
North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula, with its capital in the city of Pyongyang. At its northern border are China on the Yalu River and Russia on the Tumen River, in the far northeastern corner of the country. To the south, it is bordered by South Korea, with which it formed one nation until the division following World War II.
North Korea was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987, according to Country Reports on Terrorism 2007. The DPRK continued to harbor four Japanese Red Army members who participated in a jet hijacking in 1970. The Japanese government continued to seek a full accounting of the fate of the 12 Japanese nationals believed to have been abducted by North Korea state entities; five such abductees have been repatriated to Japan since 2002. As part of the Six-Party Talks process, the United States reaffirmed its intent to fulfill its commitments regarding the removal of the designation of the North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism in parallel with North Korea’s actions on denuclearization.
North Korea’s population is approximately 64.3% non-religious and only 1.7% of its citizens are Christians. The North Korean constitution provides for “freedom of religious belief,” but in practice the government severely restricted religious freedom, including organized religious activity except that which is supervised tightly by officially recognized groups linked to the government. Genuine religious freedom does not exist.
Challenges for Christians:
One of the most repressive regimes in the world, North Korea is ranked No. 1 among nations that are the worst persecutors of Christians based on Open Doors 2008 World Watch List. North Korea again topped the persecutor list for the sixth straight year. The reclusive communist state is known to execute Christians found with a Bible, imprison and torture believers and ban all forms of worship.
More Christians in North Korea were arrested in 2006 than in 2005. Between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians are currently suffering in prison camps where torture is regularly implemented. Some think the hermit regime has detained more political and religious prisoners than any other country in the world.
On occasion, North Koreans become Christians after crossing the border with China and entering into contact with local Christians. But many are exposed as Believers when they return to North Korea and are targeted for arrest. Many face torture and death. Though no exact figures can be given, hundreds of Christians were killed by the regime in 2005.
Meanwhile, North Korean dictatator Kim Jong Il may have suffered a serious health setback after the 66-year-old dictator failed to appear at an important celebration of his country’s anniversary. Jong has no heir apparent and the floundering regime could collapse with his death, The Los Angeles Times reported.
There was no sign of Jong at a closely watched parade in Pyongyang on September 9, 2008, marking the 60th anniversary of North Korea’s founding. A U.S. intelligence report said he may have suffered a stroke, the Associated Press reported. Incapacity of the man North Koreans call the “Dear Leader” would have serious implications for the international effort to get North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons. His last reported public appearance was in mid-August 2008, which was when health rumors began circulating about Jong.
The U.S., China, Japan and other nations have been negotiating with Jong’s communist dictatorship about scrapping its nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic aid and broader ties, Bloomberg reported.
Jong took over North Korea in 1994 following the death of his father, North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung, at the age of 82. The impoverished country of 23 million people is suffering through their worst food shortage in a decade, the United Nations said, Bloomberg reported.
- Pray that renegade and hostile terrorists the North Korean government sponsor are caught and properly dealt with for their continued violence against innocent people. (Mark 4:22)
- Pray for the salvation of Kim Jong-Il and other North Korean leaders, and all prisoners and guards, and for all torture camps to be closed down.
- Thank God that despite the odds, in one of the harshest places in the world, there are Christians surviving.
- Thank God for the safety of those who escape to China and the Chinese Christians who risk everything to help them. Pray for these refugees to not be repatriated and to embrace the Gospel.
- Pray for the safety and release of imprisoned Christians.
- Pray for Underground Believers to be protected and to keep the faith while under extreme scrutiny.
- Pray for the North Korean government to give freedom to Christians to worship.
As many as 3 million people died from starvation between 1994 and 2000, yet the government stockpiles food reserved for the army. Pray for food and medical supplies sent to North Korea to go directly to those in need and not be pirated by the government.
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors, The Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Christian Solidarity Worldwide