Ministry: N. Korea Steps Up Crackdown on Christians

As the world debates North Korea?s defiant missile launch, a Christian ministry working with the persecuted church highlights another troubling story - authorities have heightened persecution of its Christian citizens.

?North Korean authorities have stepped up their measure for exposing all underground church members by increasing surveillance,? Open Doors reported Monday.

Unlike neighboring China, which allows Christians to worship in state-sanctioned churches, North Korea prohibits all Christian activity, including private worship. All citizens are forced to adhere to a semi-personality cult that worships North Korea?s current dictator and his father.

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No other religion is allowed under the totalitarian regime. Being found a Christian can result in public execution without trial or being thrown into the extremely harsh condition of concentration camps where torture is expected.

There are an estimated 400,000 Christians secretly worshipping in North Korea, according to Open Doors sources in the country. An estimated 200,000 Christians are currently in prison labor camps because of their faith.

?What is forgotten in all the controversy surrounding the rocket launch is the treatment of the suffering people inside North Korea and the horrendous human rights record of Kim Jong-Il,? says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. ?The litany of abuses in well-documented ? forced labor, political prisoners tortured in prison camps, sexual trafficking, thousands starving to death. And the abuses are increasing while the government sets its sights on developing a nuclear program."

Moeller urged Christians and concerned citizens to be involved in the upcoming North Korea Freedom Week, April 26-May 2. During the campaign, participants will voice their concern to members of Congress, attend a protest at the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., participate in a rally at Capitol Hill, and pray for the freedom of North Koreans.

NKFW is sponsored by the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC), which consists of about 60 organizations including Open Doors USA.

North Korea is ranked as the No. 1 persecutor of Christians for the seventh year in a row in Open Doors? World Watch List 2009. The U.S. State Department has also re-designated North Korea as a ?Country of Particular Concern? ? a label given to the worst religious freedom violators in the world.

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