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Region East and Southeast Asia
Leader Kim Jong-Un
Population 25 405 000
Christian 1.2%
Main Religion Atheism/Traditional Beliefs
Government Communist Dictatorship
Rank 1
Score 94
Previous Rank 1
Previous Score 92

“The outhouse of the prison was the only place we could worship.”

Once again, North Korea is ranked as the most oppressive place in the world for Christians, #1 on the Open Doors World Watch List. In this totalitarian Communist State, Christians are forced to hide their faith completely from government authorities, neighbours, and often, even their own spouses and children.

Due to ever-present surveillance, many pray with eyes open. Gathering for praise and worship or fellowship is practically impossible. Worship of the ruling Kim family is mandated for all citizens, and those who don’t comply (including Christians) are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or even killed. Entire Christian families are imprisoned in hard labour camps, where unknown numbers die each year from torture, beatings, overexertion and starvation. Those who attempt to flee to South Korea via China risk execution or life imprisonment and those who stay behind often fare no better.

The goal of Open Doors has always been to “strengthen what remains and is about to die” (Rev 3:2). This is especially applicable to the North Korean Church. Without our support, many Christians would starve to death. Open Doors serves Christians in North Korea by providing them with emergency relief aid, including food, medicine and clothes, as well as Bibles, books and other discipleship materials. Open Doors partners in China also provide shelter and aid for Christians who have fled the country, as well as training for those who wish to return to North Korea for ministry.

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