Christianity is growing in the despotic state of North Korea despite the horrendous persecution of dissenters, sources on the ground say.
A North Korean defector who works with the country’s underground church said that people “no longer respect Kim Jong-un” and are refusing to worship the Kim family, as they were told to do in the past.
The anonymous defector, a member of the Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea, told The Telegraph that, people “are looking for something else to sustain their faith”.
He said: “In some places, that has led to the emergence of shamens, but the Christian church is also growing and deepening its roots there”.
The man’s testimony coincides with an annual report on global religious freedoms by the US State Department, released yesterday.
It found that: “An estimated 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners, some imprisoned for religious reasons, were believed to be held in the political prison camp system in remote areas under horrific conditions”.
In some cases, the report added, the persecution of religious dissenters can be as extreme as execution, torture and imprisonment.
In its 2017 World Watch List, Christian charity Open Doors classified North Korea as “the most difficult” place in the world to be a Christian.
Open Doors also believes that the number of Christians killed or imprisoned is increasing, estimating that around 70,000 are in labour camps.
The World Watch List also revealed that in neighbouring China, persecution of Christians is receding, and the church has doubled in size from 50 million Christians in the 1980s to nearly 100 million today.