Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on March 24th that Christian missionaries working in North Korea are asking for help, saying that North Koreans are in great trouble due to the spread of the coronavirus infection.

According to the report, Open Doors recently sent an e-mail asking for help, saying, "In the midst of a deadly epidemic in history, we are putting North Koreans in a more vulnerable situation."

Open Doors, which has delivered daily necessities to North Koreans as well as operating underground churches in the North, has recently informed local sources that the international epidemic has made it imperative for Christian medicine, food, and basic relief supplies in the North, RFA said.

According to OpenDoor, hospitals, doctors and medicine in North Korea are very scarce. Patients are buying generic drugs from unqualified doctors on the black market, or most families are suffering from food shortages. In this situation, however, residents must first provide food to the military, RFA reported.

The Rev. Kim Sung-Eun of the Caleb Mission Church, who has been a missionary to North Korea, quoted testimony from North Korean defectors' families in the North as saying, "we have little income from North Koreans due to worsening economic conditions in the North," adding, "It is hard to find commercial transactions taking place after North Koreans gather at the marketplaces for a living."

Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), said, "because of COVID-19, the worsening of North Korean people's lives has already been predicted. However, it is hard to expect reasonable assistance unless the North Korean regime transparently reveals related issues, such as the food situation lacking," RFA reported.