A Korean organization has released a report presenting horrifying accounts of Christian persecution in North Korea.
Korea Future Initiative (KFI) conducted an investigation and documentation project that aims to "provide an accurate accounting of patterns of documented religious freedom violations perpetrated against North Korean citizens and to inform decision-making in the international community."
Entitled "Persecuting Faith: Documenting religious freedom violations in North Korea", the report contains the first phase of their project, revealing the terrifying conditions of Christians who are persecuted and sent to the country's labor camps. North Korea is in its 20th year ranking first on the World Watch List as the most dangerous country for Christians. Thus, prayers are requested for the light of God to shine in the totalitarian state, Open Doors USA reported.
The report is based on the data collected from 117 respondents, reporting 273 victims, interviewed in 2019 and 2020. It also enumerated incidents of persecution.
These include 79 refugees who were forced to return to North Korea, 244 incidents of arbitrary arrests, 36 individuals who were tortured or have sustained physical assault, 32 incidents of sexual violence and 20 persons who were executed.
The report further stated stories of Christians who were thrown into the North Korean labor camps experiencing horrifying conditions.
One is about former prisoner Hea Woo whose husband died in prison for his faith.
She said that a prison has different parts which include agriculture, construction and mining. Men and women were segregated but all seemed like they were about to faint because of hopelessness, despair and starvation. Each, she said, was only given a handful of rotten corn and something watery but not soup. The corn was their only food for the whole year. People were made to work "more than cows or animals" and prisoners die of malnutrition and accidents.
Christians who have managed to escape to China are also facing dangerous situations. Findings of the KFI report said that "the investigation documented 110 incidents where persons experienced criminal charges based on their religious activities in China that were not in accordance with due process or where the grounds for criminal proceedings were likely unlawful and at odds with fundamental human rights."
The report showed the horrific treatment of fleeing North Koreans in China and those who were sent back to the country where they are usually imprisoned.
A woman identified as "Prisoner 42" told her story.
She said that one day when she was walking on a street in China, a black car pulled up next to her and took her to a Chinese prison. She was handed over to the North Korean authorities after a few weeks. She was then brought to a detention center where she was made to strip all her clothes and the authorities searched her body for any hidden items, especially money.
In addition, the report told stories of sudden imprisonment, violent interrogations, execution and forced abortions. But even in the midst of hopelessness of North Korean prisons, God was still seen moving in the lives of the prisoners.
One respondent narrated her story when she was hit in the face, causing her skin to rupture and bleeding.
"I wept a lot when they hit me again. Blood and discharge ruptured during my next pre-trial examination. They hit me again because I wept. I do not know if it was God, but the wound healed by the next pre-trial examination."
Another respondent spoke about a prisoner who shared the gospel in a re-education camp and spoke in tongues, which she recognized as passages from the Bible.
"Other prisoners in the cell did not know what this person was doing under the blanket, but I knew," she said.
A witness also remembered how a prisoner told her, "'God sent me here for you.'"
"Eventually I listened to her [...] she was a light that came and warmed me when I was drowning in my sorrow [...] I would have killed myself if it were not for her," she said.
The stories showed God's faithfulness to his people even in the midst of hopelessness and despair.
Christians are requested to pray for the believers in North Korea, as well as the prison guards and leaders of the country, that they too would experience the redemptive love of the Lord Jesus Christ.