Home Christian News Watchdog Group Releases Detailed Report of North Korea’s Religious Persecution

Watchdog Group Releases Detailed Report of North Korea’s Religious Persecution

Documented criminal charges included: 149 charges of religious practice; 110 charges of religious activities in China; 78 charges of possessing religious items; 77 charges of contact with religious persons; 72 charges of attending places of worship; and 22 charges of sharing religious beliefs. Users of this report should pay close attention to the documented number of victims and take care not to overcount the documented charges. In some cases, a single victim experienced multiple criminal charges.

-Documented violations included 244 incidents of arbitrary arrest; 195 incidents of arbitrary detention; 125 incidents of arbitrary imprisonment; 111 incidents of arbitrary interrogation; 79 incidents of refoulement; 36 incidents of punishment of family members; 36 incidents of torture or sustained physical assault; 32 incidents of sexual violence; 20 incidents of execution; and 19 incidents of public trial or resident exposure meetings. Users of this report should pay close attention to the documented number of victims (273) and take care not to overcount the documented violations. In many cases, a single victim experienced multiple violations.

“I was tortured in prison and physically assaulted. These experiences remain with me as trauma. I have nightmares in the middle of the night […] The memory of living among a pile of corpses is still there.” Interviewed Survivor

-Documented violations were located in 85 named facilities in North Korea and China, including 25 North Korean government offices; 21 North Korean pre-trial detention centers; 10 Chinese penal facilities; 8 North Korean holding centers; 7 North Korean sites of execution, public trial, and resident exposure meetings; 6 North Korean long-term re-education camps; 5 North Korean labor training camps; 2 North Korean political prison camps; and 1 North Korean internment camp.

Facilities where multiple victims were documented included North Pyongan Provincial Ministry of State Security pre-trial detention center (64); North Hamgyong Provincial Ministry of State Security pre-trial detention center (42); Dandong border detention center (34); Onsong County Ministry of State Security pre-trial detention center (26); and Chongjin Susong political prison camp (22).

The investigation’s factual findings span the years 1990-2019.

The ages of documented victims range from 3-years old to over 80- years old.

Women and girls account for nearly 60 percent of documented victims.

-Data contained in this report is representative of the experiences of documented North Korean victims, witnesses, and perpetrators. Victims of religious freedom violations who were not interviewed for this project may have undergone fundamentally different experiences.

“I was half my weight when I was being refouled […] I did not pray. I begged to God every morning and every night. It made me feel more at peace because it gave me the sense that I had someone to depend on”. – Interviewed Survivor

When it comes to religion in North Korea, North Koreans are told “there is no religion in the world and Kim Jong-il is God,” as one survivor reported. Even possessing a Bible could get you executed in front of crowds to invoke governmental fear in others. One victim reported that a government official was executed at a Hyesan airfield for possession a Bible. Another Christian was tied to a wooden stake at a Musan Market in front of over 1,000 citizens and executed. A witness stated, “I saw the flesh fall off. That is how close I was.”

Read the entire report on religion in North Korea here.

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Jesse is the Content Editor for ChurchLeaders and Site Manager for ChristianNewsNow. An undeserving husband to a beautiful wife, and a father to 4 beautiful children. He serves as a deacon, a growth group leader, and is a member of University Baptist Church in Beavercreek, Ohio. Follow him on twitter here (https://twitter.com/jessetjackson). Accredited member of the Evangelical Press Association.