North Korea is considered by many to be the most difficult place in the world to be a Christian.
There are no official statistics about the number of Christians in North Korea, but the number may turn out to be higher than 10 percent, according to northkoreachristians.com. There could be as many as 70,000 Christians in North Korean prison camps, said Ryan Morgan, regional manager for East Asia with International Christian Concern.
The most recent face of Christian persecution in North Korea is Kenneth Bae of Lynnwood, Washington. He lives in China with his wife and conducts tours of North Korea, according to One News Now. He’s a committed Christian in his third month of a 15-year prison term in a North Korean prison camp.
Bae is imprisoned for “committing hostile actions” against North Korea. His sister, Terri Chung, recently said in an interview that the 45-year-old diabetic Bae is going blind.
Ryan Morgan, regional manager for East Asia with International Christian Concern which feeds information to persecution.org, has dedicated his life’s work to helping Christians who are persecuted. Morgan said North Korea is regarded as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world.
“Kenneth Bae is a Christian and an American citizen. From what we know, he was with YWAM in China for a number of years,” Morgan said. “Any type of missionary activity in North Korea is completely illegal. It’s illegal to own a Bible. Just owning a Bible is considered a political crime.”
As punishment, Morgan said, three generations of the offender’s family can suffer the same way. That means your father and your son can be sentenced to significant time in a North Korean prison camp. If there aren’t three generations of your family, they can sentence future generations to life in a prison camp.
“These punishments can be for something as simple as giving a Bible to a neighbor,” Morgan said. “We want to encourage people to pray for him and his family. Please get involved and pray.”
North Korea, more generally, is still a sad and dark place. According to CNN, this is the image North Korean leadership wants to present to the outside world: endless parades of goose-stepping soldiers and military hardware, accompanied by huge demonstrations of popular support for Kim Jong Un, the twenty-something leader who inherited the dynastic throne when his father died in 2011.
Biblically, Christians are told to evangelize and share the Gospel to the ends of the earth without fear of consequence (Matthew 28 16-20). We should pray for our brothers and sisters who are being so badly persecuted. We should do all we can to help them. We should even be inspired by their no-holds-barred love for Jesus Christ as we go through our daily lives in places that are much more accommodating to the Gospel than North Korea. And maybe, if God wills, we’ll end up in a place that’s hostile to our faith.