Despite harsh persecution from their government, an increasing number of North Koreans are getting exposed to the Bible yearly.
A new report reveals that despite extreme persecution from their own government, a steady and increasing number of North Koreans are exposed to the Bible annually.
In the annual White Paper on Religious Freedom, The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights reveals that since the year 2000, the number of North Koreans who "have an experience of seeing the Bible" increased by four percent yearly.
Dubbed as the 'Hermit Kingdom,' North Korea is known as the one of the world's religious persecutors.
In a previous article by Forbes, the North Korean government considers anyone of faith as hostile, most especially Christians, since they "place loyalty to God before that of the North Korean state."
Because of the intense persecution, Christians who live in North Korea do their best to hide their faith in fear of getting arrested or worse, being sent to labor camps. The latter was considered a 'lighter' sentence compared to being tortured or facing public execution in the mid-1950s.
But now there's good news and a glimmer of hope for Christians in North Korea.
As the Christian Post reports, only 16 North Koreans have claimed to see a Bible in 2000. Now, 559 defectors from North Korean have said that they had "seen a Bible" which puts the increase at at least four percent each year.
While the number is still low, it means well for North Korean Christians since the Bible is a religious literature that is banned in the country.
Despite restrictions and limitations, the The North Korean Database Center was able to start its survey in the isolated country in 2007. Since then, the number of people who testified on religious activities being banned remained the same even after 13 years.
This year, the group surveyed more than 1,200 people to ask about the level of punishment that people receive for performing religious activities. Majority of the respondents at 46.7 percent said that prison camps are a common punishment while 38.6 percent knew nothing of the punishments since they do not know anything about religion or its practice.
The Center adds that religious persecution started to increase in 2014 when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the arrest of "people who had contacts with Christianity."
From that time forward, several security forces have been active in their search for those who believe in Christianity and practice religion.
One of the defectors living in South Korea shared the story of an anonymous acquaintance who was killed for being a Christian.
The defector shared, "When we were living [in North Korea], we did not know she was practicing religion. However, when I came back home, I heard she was killed."
The Korea Future Initiative based in London also released a report identifying over 200 Christians who suffered persecution for exercising their faith. Those imprisoned were executed by a firing squad because they were found with religious pamphlets or the Bible.
But despite the extreme persecution that Christians face in North Korea, Pastor Eric Foley of Voice of the Martyrs Korea still said that "God is finding ways to get Bible into North Korea."
The pastor himself is awaiting charges for launching Bible balloons into the communist country, but is still amazed of the avenues that God is opening up.
He urged those who believe in the faith to continue praying and that God may be glorified.
"Please pray that continues. Pray that God is glorified."