North Korea: The Calvary of Forgotten Christians
A white paper on religious freedom in North Korea has just been published: while the persecution against Christians remains strong, the proportion of residents who have read the gospel has been increasing over the past two decades.
The martyrdom of Eastern Christians tends to obscure the persecuting fury of communist regimes: the Seoul-based North Korean Human Rights Data Center (NKDB) was able to collect the testimonies of 1,234 people - mostly refugees - who were able to confirm the ban on all religious activities and the persecution of believers in Kim-Jong-Un's land.
Almost 46% of those polled said that any participation in religious activities in North Korea is harshly punished, by deportation to a labor camp.
According to the white paper published by the NKDB, religious persecution intensified from April 2014, following an order from the head of state which demanded “the arrest of anyone who has contact with Christianity.”
Since then, North Korean law enforcement has actively sought out believers, while the North Korean embassy in Beijing has also made a request to identify national Christians who have taken refuge in the Middle Kingdom.
However, one encouraging figure emerges from the survey: despite an intense climate of persecution, the number of people who “saw a Bible” has increased by about 4% per year since 2000.
The number of Catholic faithful - in the single diocese of Pyongyang, vacant since 2013 - is estimated at 800 by the Vatican, but precise statistics are impossible to establish and their perimeter of freedom in religious practice remains extremely small.
(Sources : Missions étrangères de Paris/Vatican News – FSSPX.Actualités)
Illustration : Uri Tours (uritours.com), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons