‘Unimaginable cruelty’ meted out to North Korean Christians

A human rights organisation has published harrowing details of religious persecution in North Korea.

Korea Future Initiative (KFI) conducted over 100 interviews with exiled North Korean survivors, eye witnesses or perpetrators of “religious freedom violations”.

According to KFI’s documented findings, the majority of victims identified in the years 1990-2019 were Christians.


Interviewees told of the arbitrary detention, sexual abuse, forced abortion, brutal torture and summary execution of North Korean Christians.

Believers were arrested for attending underground church services, sharing their faith and owning a Bible.

One respondent reports seeing a Christian, detained for possessing a New Testament, kicked and struck with a wooden stool during interrogation.

The report also tells of the execution of a victim who had smuggled a Bible into North Korea from China.


Despite uncovering shocking details of terrible suffering, KFI also heard remarkable testimonies of faith in Christ.

Following the arrest of a number of families for belonging to an underground church, another respondent told investigators: “I asked them whether they were afraid. They just smiled.”

One of them said “she was not frightened and told me, ‘Jesus looks over us’”.

In a separate incident, a Christian who was repeatedly beaten was heard to weep and say: “I am God’s daughter. I am crying because I am worried that God will be in pain seeing his daughter being assaulted in prison”.


The authors observed that, whilst Protestantism had seemingly disappeared in North Korea by the early-1990s, “the evidence documented by investigators in this report demonstrates that it has revived, albeit under severe repression”.

Il-lyong Ju, an exiled human rights advocate who contributed to the report, said: “The cruel actions of the privileged few in North Korea who take our lives and control our thoughts must be prevented.”

He added: “we must not forget the testimonies of the survivors in this report who have overpowered death in North Korea”.

Il-lyong Ju also said: “Without religious freedom, there can be no other rights that allow us, the people of North Korea, to reclaim our humanity.”

Also see:

Open Doors: Christian persecution ‘should concern everyone’

COVID-19: Countries urged not to target Christians

Chinese police arrest Christian leaders on Easter Sunday

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