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Country rank   2
Last year’s rank   1
Region   Asia
Population   25 951 000
Christians   400 000 (Open Doors estimate)
Main Religion   Agnosticism

2North Korea

North Korea has been at or near the top of the World Watch List for more than 20 years. That’s because any North Korean caught following Jesus is at immediate risk of imprisonment, brutal torture, and death. An estimated 50 000 to 70 000 Christians are imprisoned in North Korea’s notorious prisons and labour camps. Often a family will share the same fate as the person captured.

The government, ruled by the Kim family, views Christians as the most dangerous political class of people, and persecution is violent and intense. North Korean parents often hide their faith from their children, churches of more than a few people are non-existent, and most worship is done as secretly as possible. Life for Christians in North Korea is a constant cauldron of pressure; capture or death is only a mistake away.

What changed this year? Because of the government’s closure of all borders as a Covid-19 precaution, Christians are even more at risk. Even the limited ability of some believers to escape to China for help with food and medicine has become even more difficult.

Meet “Bae”

“From the perspective of other people, our life of suffering must seem like a cursed life; however, this suffering is a blessing from our Father who allowed it in our life because it is a shortcut to the Father. He knows our suffering and listens to our prayers. We thank our Father who has done such great things to prepare life for us.”

Bae, a Christian living in North Korea.


Pray for North Korea

  • Pray for Christians who worship secretly, Christians who are in prison, and the families of Christians who have been arrested or killed. Ask God to be with them and to strengthen them to find hope and see His hand at work in their lives.
  • Pray for the heart of Kim Jong Un and the other leaders of the North Korean regime. The Kim family has led for so long and brutally opposed God’s people. Pray for a change of heart, that Kim might see the beauty of the Gospel and the love Jesus has for him.
  • Open Doors’ networks in China are vital to keep the North Korean Church up and running—many of the Christians who make it to safe houses in China return home, equipped to carry the Gospel. Pray for the success and safety of these safe houses, and for the travels of North Korean Christians who make the dangerous trek to and from China.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in North Korea?

Through our networks in China, Open Doors helps persecuted North Korean believers with emergency relief aid (food, medicine, clothes, etc.), Bibles, discipleship materials and training, worldwide prayer support and more. Open Doors also provides discipleship through radio broadcasts in other countries that are available (illegally) in North Korea.

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