While international attention is focused on North Korea's rocket threat, a citizen living inside the country raised another concern that often is overlooked.
According to a letter from a Christian in North Korea to Open Doors USA, the current living conditions in the reclusive country are "very bad."
"The price of rice continues to increase," the person (who was not identified) wrote in the letter recently received by the Christian ministry. "Recently five women from our neighborhood were publicly executed; the youngest only age 28… Their crime? Trying to survive by looking for food. After their execution, we were no longer allowed to trade at the market."
North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world with about 9 million citizens needing urgent food assistance, according to the World Food Program. The country has depended on food aid since the 1990s when a devastating famine resulted in the death of as many as 2 million people.
But despite widespread hunger, the North Korean government recently refused to accept future U.S. food aid and expelled all five relief groups that distribute American aid in the country.
"What should we do? Nevertheless, we are not afraid to starve," wrote the Christina living in North Korea. "We have already received support from Christians worldwide. We do our best to spread God's Word in North Korea."
There are an estimated 400,000 Christians in North Korea who live under the constant threat of imprisonment, torture or public execution if authorities discover their Christian faith.
Being found a Christian in North Korea is one of the worst crimes according to the oppressive government. All citizens are forced to adhere to a personality cult revolving around the worship of the current dictator and his deceased father.
No other religious beliefs are allowed in the country.
Open Doors has for seven straight years ranked North Korea as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world.
But the ministry reports that North Korean church leaders have started a prayer campaign for evangelization in North Korea. Christians in the country are reportedly becoming more united despite the worsening conditions for many believers, according to the Open Doors report.
Believers in North Korea are requesting the church in the west to keep them in special prayer because of their dangerous situation.
"Pray that God will open doors for the revival and expansion of the North Korean churches," Open Doors requests.