NORTH KOREA – North Korea Christians Facing Greater Persecution Due to Covid-19

Vision | September 28, 2020

With borders closed and security increased, Covid-19 has made it harder than ever for North Korean refugees – including those fleeing due to religious persecution – to escape.

According to The Ministry of Unification in South Korea, between April and June 2019 320 refugees fled North Korea to South Korea. However during the same period in 2020 the number of those who made it across the border amounted to only 12. The ministry said this number is the lowest ever detected.

North Korea has been the most dangerous place to follow Jesus since 2002, being at the top of the World Watch List for 18 years – the World Watch List is conducted by the charity Open Doors that assesses the 50 most dangerous countries in the world to follow Jesus. Believers face violence and extreme levels of pressure in all areas of life. If North Korean Christians are discovered, not only are they deported to labour camps as political criminals, or even killed on the spot, their families share the same fate. There are thought to be hundreds of thousands of North Korean Christians who desperately need food, water, shelter and protection from the deadly Covid-19 virus.

Meanwhile, North Korea continues to claim that not one case of Covid-19 has been detected in the country. But according to the World Health Organisation, at least 25,551 people have been quarantined in the last few months. The Daily NK also claims that the virus is to blame for the deaths of at least 200 North Korean soldiers.

In response to the virus, security across North Korea has increased. Authorities are also enforcing the wearing of face masks and have forbidden all public gatherings. Temperature checks, publicly available hand sanitisers and strict social distancing are still required.

In 2019 there was a crackdown on defectors, including Christians. Authorities raided homes, torturing and killing many believers. The government halved food rations to just 300 grams of food per person each day, leaving isolated Christians additionally vulnerable. Now, Covid-19 is making it even harder for North Korean Refugees to escape.

As Christians remain in North Korea, the hardest place to follow Jesus, Open Doors is asking that we please continue praying.

Pray For North Korea:

  • Pray the hearts of North Korean authorities will be opened to God’s Word and that they be equipped with wisdom to manage the pandemic.
  • Pray God will provide for Christians who desperately need food, water and shelter.
  • Pray for safety and protection over Christians in North Korea who risk everything to follow Jesus